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GUYANA-Ramotar prorogues Parliament, Opposition "enraged"

Featured Guyana's President Donald Ramotar Guyana's President Donald Ramotar
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, November 11, 2014- The main opposition grouping, A Partnership for national Unity (APNU) Monday described the decision of President Donald Ramotar to prorogue Parliament as “the darkest day for democracy in Guyana”.

The APNU said that it is resolved to resist the President’s ‘Proclamation’ and was calling “on all the good people of Guyana everywhere to join in a civil movement for the restoration of parliamentary democracy by peacefully resisting the PPPC’s resort to dictatorship and to call for the revocation of this ‘Proclamation”

In a statement, the APNU said that it is “enraged” that Ramotar decision to prorogue Parliament “has effectively paralysed the parliamentary process and smothered the voices of the people’s legitimate representatives in the National Assembly.

“It is an affront to the Guyanese people who three years ago, in November 2011, voted for A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (AFC) to have the majority of seats in the National Assembly.”

The APNU, which together with the AFC controlled 33 seats in the outgoing 65-member Parliament, said President Ramotar “has now single-handedly engineered a constitutional crisis”.

It said the main purposes of the Proclamation are to allow the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC?  to avoid parliamentary scrutiny while it attempts to “prevent debate on the Opposition ‘no-confidence’ motion; prevent the holding of local government elections; prevent debate on financial excesses and impropriety;protect the reputations of his ministers from parliamentary sanction; permit the PPP’s campaign for general and regional elections to proceed; and permit the continued expenditure of state funds without parliamentary scrutiny.”

In his statement, President Ramotar justified the decision to prorogue Parliament saying he had earlier indicated a desire for the National Assembly, in its post-recess sittings, to deliberate and give priority to important matters relating to the development of the country.

“I also extended a hand to the Opposition for us to put the nation’s business first rather than political gamesmanship.”

He said he had further advised that should he be provided with reasons to believe that the Parliamentary Opposition intends to disrupt Government’s business by forcing a debate on their no confidence motion, “I resolved to respond immediately by exercising my Constitutional options to either Prorogue or Dissolve Parliament paving the way for holding of General Elections.

“Consistent with my earlier position and in accordance with powers conferred on me by Article 70 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana, I earlier today issued a Proclamation proroguing the 10th Parliament.”

Ramotar said that his decision to exercise this constitutional option was not taken lightly,”but it was the sole recourse that was left to me to ensure that the life of the 10th Parliament was preserved.

“It is no secret that the Parliamentary Opposition parties had, at every conceivable opportunity, made known their clear intention to have their motion of no confidence against my Government debated instantly at the first post-recess sitting which was called for today, November 10. Their one-seat majority in Parliament could only mean its passage and the immediate irreversible dissolution of Parliament. “

Ramotar said his appeals to return to normalcy, to constructively address the many important issues confronting us in Guyana, appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

“The Opposition in Parliament intends to end the life of the 10th Parliament with immediate effect, dashing all hopes for urgent attention to issues  relating to economic growth, social services and yes, the holding of Local Government Elections.”

He said that while some people may question why the government has taken that route and not go along with the debate, “the answer lies in the practical choice between an atmosphere of confrontation, as the no confidence motion debate would fuel, or that of possible accommodation, as a prorogued Parliament can facilitate, if there is a genuine intent on all sides.   

“I also want to assure all that my decision ensures that the life of the 10th Parliament is preserved up to a maximum of   six months, as permitted by the Constitution of Guyana,” he said, telling Guyanese “ I pledge to you, to have my administration use that time during the period of prorogation to continue to engage the Parliamentary Opposition in constructive ways, in addressing the issues confronting Guyana.

“It is, however, my genuine desire to have the prorogation of the 10th Parliament ended sooner were my Government and the Opposition to reach an agreement for a return to normalcy. Further were these entreaties of cooperation by my government to be unsuccessful, I would then take the necessary steps for the holding of early General Elections so that the democratic will of our people can be freely exercised.”

But the APNU said that the decision by President Ramotar “ is a challenge to the entire nation.

“He has no grounds for his crude smothering of parliamentary independence. APNU will not accept this denial of democracy and will not be intimidated by the PPPC’s dictatorial behaviour.”

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