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Elections can be called before debate on no-confidence motion

Last Updated on Wednesday, 6 August 2014, 20:06 by GxMedia

President Donald Ramotar could possibly call early general elections rather than await the inevitable passage of a no-confidence motion, even as the House Speaker Raphael Trotman ruled out a parliamentary debate before the House goes into recess on Sunday.

“Nothing is impossible…I don’t believe that it’s a question of strategy that determines response to the no-confidence,” he said when asked what can stop general elections from being called before. Luncheon said he was interested in knowing about the process of handling a confidence vote.

The Head of the Presidential Secretariat said Cabinet would next Tuesday formally consider the implications of the planned no-confidence vote now that the parliamentary coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has decided to back the Alliance For Change (AFC)

General and regional elections, last held in November 2011, are constitutionally due in 2016. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is currently finalizing a voters list that will be valid until January 31, 2015.

Luncheon reiterated that government and the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) remained confident of regaining a parliamentary majority whenever Guyanese return to the polls.

The House Speaker on Tuesday ruled out the National Assembly debating a no- confidence vote in the government before the parliamentary recess begins on Sunday, and he said if government refuses to call a sitting at the end of the two-month break he could summon the House if most parliamentarians convince him that it is in the public’s interest.

Trotman said that even if a copy of the no-confidence motion was presented to the Clerk of the National Assembly Tuesday afternoon, there would be insufficient time for the House’s Legal Adviser to provide advice and summon the House for a debate. “Even if it goes in by Friday, it wouldn’t be debated this week at all , certainly not before the recess. We don’t have enough time to convene the House,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. 

The AFC has been piloting the idea of the no-confidence motion ever since government moved to the House for approval of a GUY$4.5 billion Statement of Excesses  that have been spent on programmes and projects that did not win the combined opposition’s approval during consideration of the 2014 estimates of expenditure. Government has insisted that it has followed the constitution and the law in spending the monies.

When the House last met in July, it agreed to reconvene on a date to be fixed. Trotman said that if the Government and Opposition fail to reach agreement on a date for the next sitting after the recess ends on October 10, he could summon the House if a majority of the parliamentarians convince him that it is in the public’s interest. “There shouldn’t have any prolonged recess…It would mean that there would have to be some representation made to the Speaker by persons representing the majority of the House,” he said.

The  AFC (seven seats) and APNU (26 seats) – that have already agreed to pass the no confidence motion- command a one-seat majority in the 65-seat House.

The Speaker said that due to the wide implications of such a motion, he would be inclined to have it debated by as many parliamentarians as possible during several days. At the same time, he noted that the sponsor of the motion could decline to proceed with the motion although it is on the parliamentary agenda.

While the Constitution states that the President and Cabinet must resign after a no confidence motion has been approved by a majority of elected parliamentarians, it also requires them to remain in office and hold an election within three months or such longer period as may be approved by a majority of the House.

Trotman explained that the resigned administration would still enjoy all the rights and privileges including access to State resources. “They have all the powers,” he said.