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Controversy brewing over PM sitting in Parliament while acting President

The government and opposition sides of the House of Assembly, seem to be bumping heads over whether Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo should be in House as he is currently acting President.

The matter was brought up by the opposition who has called Nagamootoo being in the House while acting President  a “constitutional collision.”

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is saying that when they were in government their PM never made it to the House once he was acting President.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall said that persons performing the duty of President cannot participate in the proceedings of the National Assembly.

He said that the constitution says that the Parliament shall consist of the National Assembly and the president. “What is upstairs there is the National Assembly. The President cannot be there at the same time; you will have a constitutional collision,” said Nandlall at one of the committee rooms on the Lower Flat of Parliament Building.

While Nandlall contended that that is the significance of Nagamootoo’s presence in the Chambers, PM Nagamootoo said despite acting president, he is the Prime Minister. He said he is not sure if he would be seated in the House. “I am aware that there is convention that has dealt with issue of someone acting a President.

“I can only tell you that I am performing the functions of the President, but I am the Prime Minister, an elected Member of Parliament and I’m Leader of the Government’s Business of the House.”

However, if Nagamootoo is to leave the House because of his acting President status, the two sides of the House will balance out. This means both sides of the House will have the same number of persons to vote. On the last occasion, when President David Granger was supposed to exit the country, the PM was sworn in and when the President did leave, PM too exited.

However, by the time the House convened the PM was not seated at his desk.