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Human Rights Association questions Ramotar’s refusal to dissolve Parliament

President Donald Ramotar

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is skeptical about the motive behind President Donald Ramotar’s failure to dissolve the Parliament although he has named May 11, 2015 as general elections day.

The oldest rights advocacy grouping in the country called on the Guyanese Leader to dissolve the Parliament- which is made up of the President and the National Assembly- rather than leaving the possibility open for a recall of the law-making body during which time international agreements can be sealed.

“The electoral advantage of not dissolving Parliament derives from being able to continue to enter into international agreements such as the Amaila Falls or other vote-getting projects which official dissolution of Parliament would have precluded,” said the GHRA.  President Ramotar is already on record as saying that an agreement for the construction of the US$1 billion hydropower plant would inked in the coming months.

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) urged the President to either dissolve Parliament at the earliest opportunity and adjust the election date to conform with the constitutional provision of three months; or he should explain to the nation, “in a full and frank manner, why he considers re-call of Parliament to be an option still available to him despite being in an electoral season.”

The Association reasoned that the manner in which the election date has been set, without reference to the life of Parliament, suggest it has been prompted by two considerations: dampening current pressure that the Government either return to Parliament or call new elections and secondly, the benefits which accrue to the ruling party from maintaining the Parliament in session. 

Britain, United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS) have called for an end to the suspension of Parliament which took effect on November 11, 2014 to stave off  the passage of a no-confidence motion by the opposition-controlled 65-seat National Assembly.

The GHRA observed that Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh has hinted that government may re-call Parliament to present Budget Estimates and called it a “flimsy attempt to rationalize not dissolving Parliament.”

“In light of the relentless antagonism which characterized the life of the current Parliament, it is absurd to think that in the midst of electioneering, the Parliament is going to sit down and approve a budget.  Continuing the farce that prorogation can still bring the parties into unofficial dialogue during an election season is equally bizarre,” added the association.

The GHRA referred to Article 69 of the Guyana Constitution that states that Parliament must assemble within six months of Parliament being prorogued or four months of it being dissolved. In the case of dissolution, elections must follow within three months (Art. 61), allowing a month for allocations of seats, resolving disputed results and other administrative matters before the new Parliament is convened.