GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana government says it will await a ruling of the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Barton Scotland, regarding the successful motion of no confidence filed by the opposition earlier this month, even as it hinted at taking the matter to court.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, said the government will rely on the ruling of the Speaker on the consequences of the December 21 motion of no-confidence that was successfully tabled and debated by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, when the Parliament meets on Thursday.
Williams, speaking on a television program here, said the government’s position has always been that the motion which passed by a vote of 33-32 with support from former government backbencher Charrandass Persaud, was not validly carried since the opposition needed 34 instead of 33 votes for an absolute majority.
He said the Speaker has the power to revisit any decision he sees fit.
“Parliament is actually supreme in its own arena. So, we are responsible for our internal rules and procedures. There are rules that can be changed by amending certain standing orders and once the vote is carried, then that is it,” Williams said, adding that the Speaker in his capacity, is preeminent, meaning that if he finds that an error has been made in any decision, it can be corrected.
During his television interview, Williams brushed aside calls in some quarters for the coalition government of President David Granger to resign as a result of the vote.
“Even if you say it (no-confidence motion) was validly passed, under Article 106:6 (of the Constitution), Article 106:7 says notwithstanding such defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months”.
Governments will be using precedents
Meanwhile, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, who also appeared on the television program, said the government would be using precedents as it relates to the passage of a no-confidence motion to build its argument during the next sitting of Parliament.
“In view of what happened on the 21st when the Speaker of the House indicated that he is going to adjourn Parliament to deal with the consequences, we have decided that we are going to argue the case that it has not been a threshold figure that was arrived at” Ramjattan stated.
He told viewers that “once the threshold figure is arrived at and we are now arguing it is 34 as against 33, then Article 106 is triggered, meaning that the elections must be held within a 90-day period.
“However, we are saying that will have to now be determined by the Speaker because the internal arrangements of the House is headed by the Speaker and if the Speaker determines there is clearly a mistake in relation to computation of what the threshold level is and that could be corrected… we feel that is the way to go.”
The Public Security Minister said while he recognises that immediately after the motion was passed there were statements by President Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo accepting the outcome of the motion, their statements were necessary based on what the government had felt at that time.
Nevertheless, he said that after realizing that a mistake was made and that the constitution must not be subverted by a miscalculation, it has to be remedied.