President David Granger greeted 2019 with a pledge to work with the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and its Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has gone as far as remarking that the two sides might unite to run Guyana.
“Recent developments in the National Assembly have created opportunities for enhanced political cooperation. Meetings between the government and opposition will take place in the new year to discuss and determine the way forward for our country,” the President said in his New Year’s message.
President Granger’s comments came against the backdrop of the controversial passage of a no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018 when a government parliamentarian, Charrandas Persaud, voted in favour of the Jagdeo-sponsored motion.
The Guyanese leader made it absolutely clear that the coalition-led administration and the PPP would sit down at the political table for the good of Guyana. “Your government is prepared to work with the Opposition to ensure that our national objectives are achieved and that 2019 can be a satisfactory year for all.
Immediately after the motion was passed by 33 to 32 votes in the 65-seat National Assembly, the Opposition Leader sounded an unprecedented high conciliatory tone and requested, through State Minister Joseph Harmon, a meeting with the President to discuss the way forward.
On Old Year’s Day, Jagdeo, who served as President from 1999 to 2011, left the door open on the possibility of the Government and the Opposition teaming up to manage the affairs of the oil-rich South American nation. “We may very well include the APNU in the next government so who knows who may be in the next government,” he said.
The Opposition Leader recalled sending a message to Granger that the talks should not only focus on the general elections and respecting Guyana’s constitution but on “what is good for Guyana and how we can work together for Guyana.” Jagdeo said he was willing to agree to extend the life of the government for a few weeks or one month to allow the Guyana Elections Commission to prepare for the polls.
In the same breadth, though, the President stopped short of saying that the controversy over the accuracy and constitutionality of the no-confidence motion would be tested in the Court.
“The National Assembly and the Judiciary are the bedrock of our democracy. Your government remains committed to upholding the Constitution, preserving the rule of law and guaranteeing a safe, stable, orderly and peaceful country. We respect the courts which protect our institutions and system of democracy,” he said.
For his part, the Opposition Leader warned that government’s postures so far on the no-confidence vote indicate that the government wants to cling to power beyond the 90-day period within which general elections should be held. “They are squandering this opportunity by, you must agree with me now, these lunatic-like statements,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader assured that if the PPP wins the next general elections, Granger’s cancer treatment and care would be guaranteed.
The President has been back and forth to Cuba for almost two months now for chemotherapy ever since he announced that he was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that attacks the immune system.
The Attorney General said he was almost certain that the controversy over the no-confidence motion would be taken to Court regardless of what House Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland does when the National Assembly meets on January 3, 2019.
The government’s battery of lawyers includes Guyana’s Senior Counsel Rex McKay, Barbadian Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne and Hal Gallop as well as incoming Attorney General Basil Williams.