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Guyana’s President defends decision to prorogue Parliament

President Donald Ramotar President Donald Ramotar
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, November 15 - Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar has defended his decision to prorogue the National Assembly accusing the opposition of putting their narrow political agendas ahead of Guyana.

Speaking at a news conference as opposition politicians gathered for a rally to protest what they claim to be a “’creeping dictatorship” in the country, Ramotar said that since coming to office in 2011, he had broken tradition and personally addressed legislators offering to work with everyone for the good of the country.

The main opposition grouping, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the minority Alliance for Change (SFC) control 33 of the 65 seats in the Parliament and Ramotar said opposition legislators had used the one-seat majority to stifle Guyana’s development.

“I thought that we could have developed a much better working relationship. I thought that if we only based ourselves on what was in the interest of the people of our country, I thought there were very many areas that we could have found agreement on,” he told reporters.

Ramotar said this was not the case and that he had noted “personal political agenda seems to be more important to some people than national development”.

He said his administration remains open to dialogue with the opposition, which has filed a motion of no confidence in his administration and was due to have been debated before the decision to prorogue the parliament.

President Ramotar dismissed suggestions that he was seeking to create a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship here, reminding journalists that he was he was not granted any new powers other than that which he already has.

The government has said that the Constitution allows for the prorogation of Parliament, just as it allows for a motion of no-confidence and Ramotar said that there had been uninformed statements made on the issue of the prorogation.

“…some of it was probably designed to fool the gullible and some to try to create misunderstanding and confusion,” he said, adding that several meetings have been held with stakeholders following the prorogation, including members of the diplomatic community and civil society.

He recalled that in his November 4 address to the nation, he was very clear about what his options were, “and what were the ideas in my mind at the time”.

“One was to go into the parliament and have the no-confidence motion debated the arguments which we would have won. I’m very confident about that, but we would have lost the vote in the parliament and that would have brought an end to the 10th parliament”.

He said the second option would have been to dissolve the parliament and that would have also ended the life of the parliament. 

Ramotar said he chose the third option of prorogation which preserved the life of the parliament.

“This option to me was the best one as it still offers the possibility to meet around the table to discuss matters of importance”

Ramotar told reporters he couldn’t rule by decree or pass laws by himself.

“If I could have done that, then I would have passed all of these laws that I think are so important, but I can’t so, that is why I want the parliament to continue, to get them moving again,” he added.

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