Call for supermajority parliamentary decision-making is attempted “nasty, shameless” power grab- Nandlall

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 August 2023, 21:34 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall

A recommendation that Guyana’s National Assembly make decisions by a supermajority to force national consensus is an effort to grab power from the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) conveniently whenever it is in government, according to Attorney General Anil Nandlall.

“It’s a veneer only so that it sounds intelligent, and it sounds profound. It’s a nasty, shameless grab for power without winning an election,” he said on his Tuesday night social media presentation, “Issues In The News.”

In a clear response to proposal by political and social activist, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes at the Cuffy250 State of African Guyanese Forum 2023, Mr Nandlall said globally democracy, especially in the Western Hemisphere and the Commonwealth, is determined by a simple majority.

He accused the opposition of drumming up calls for supermajority and power-sharing in a consistent effort aimed at subverting the democratic will of the people at periodic general and regional elections whenever the PPP is victorious.

The Attorney General did not name Mr Hughes, who recently represented then Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall in now aborted police investigation into alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl. Mr Nandlall instead repeatedly referred to a claim by Mr Hughes that the 2018 no-confidence motion against the APNU+AFC administration had not been validly passed because 34 rather than 33 was a majority of 65 seats of the National Assembly.

Mr Nandlall said when APNU+AFC was in office, they did not have any problem with the exercise of power but now are raising the spectre of mayhem and instability if there is no power sharing or shared governance. “These are persons who want power other than by the way of the ballot and they want to get rid of the People’s Progressive Party. They have a problem with the People’s Progressive Party and they are one set of people and you must ask yourself why,” he said.

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes addressing Cuffy250’s 2023 State of the African Guyanese forum

The gridlock surrounding the substantive appointments of a Chancellor and Chief Justice, he cited, was a prime example of how “that mechanism for power-sharing to take place and it has never happened.” If there is a system of supermajority, Mr Nandlall forecast that “government will grind to a halt” and the country would descend into anarchy.

He suggested that, like the PPPC, the opposition should do its political work rather than advocate for power sharing.

In apparent response to claims of racial discrimination against Afro-Guyanese, he cited a recent exercise at Ann’s Grove village, East Coast Demerara where more than 400 persons who occupied lands since the abolition of slavery would for the first time receive land titles that they could now use as collateral or easily transfer to their families. “That is empowering people; not fooling people about power-sharing; not fooling people about if you get into government you will share out oil money; not instilling hatred into people that they are not getting a fair share of the oil wealth of the country,” he said.

Mr Hughes, who recently made a presentation to the United Nations Permanent forum on people of African descent on behalf of the non-governmental International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G), told the Cuffy250 2023 forum on the State of African Guyanese that such an approach is needed due to an almost non-existent chance of national unity or trust.

The concept of simple majority must be replaced by the requirements of super majorities, so at least we ensure that most voices are heard before major decisions are undertaken. An executed incentive under these new arrangements would be to achieve consensus, not what currently operates under the guise of democracy,” he said. 

Mr. Hughes also proposed that supermajorities be extended to parliamentary committees, against the backdrop of his contention that Guyana’s constitution has either outlived its usefulness or incapable of delivering benefits to Guyanese in an equitable manner.