SPEAKER of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, stated yesterday that his February 22 ruling to restore the right of Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee to speak in the National Assembly was done in accordance with the Constitution.
“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of Guyana and not subvert it and this is what I am doing here. I am doing my best,” he explained as he made the impromptu statement in response to requests from the media.
He observed that while his move to uphold the Constitution may be considered the politically incorrect thing to do, “I prefer to know that I did what was constitutionally just, and right, as against what was politically correct.”
Speaker Trotman noted that the continued prolonging of the court case added to his making the decision at the time, along with what he garnered from his research on the issue, and he was sufficiently satisfied that it was the right thing to do.
He noted also that the ruling he made on January 11 had already stated that Minister Rohee must speak, but what he was concerned about was whether the court had jurisdiction to continue to tell the parliament what to do.
Responding to A Partnership for National Unity’s claim that the Speaker released his ruling to the media prior to it being announced in the National Assembly, Trotman said the registry of the parliament issued the ruling to every member of the House, both electronically and in written form.
“I asked that it be issued to the press, but make sure that the members (MPs) get it first. I have no control over the registry but I did say to the registry, ensure that the press gets it, because in the interest of transparency, I think that’s important. But the registry said to me that they had issued the ruling firstly electronically, secondly in hard copy form to every member of the House, before the press, and that is the understanding I am going on. I didn’t send it to the press first and then to the MPs.”
In July 2012, when the debate on the Opposition’s no- confidence motion against Minister Clement Rohee had begun, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall had advised the National Assembly that only the president can remove a minister from office and that Article 183 of the Constitution states on what grounds such an official can be removed.
He further advised that neither the Speaker nor the National Assembly has the power under the Constitution to deny an elected member of the National Assembly his right to speak in the House.
In his recent ruling issued on the gag on Minister Rohee, Speaker Trotman stated that Minister Rohee’s right to speak in the House has been restored on the premise that the National Assembly cannot refuse to entertain a member who is appointed by the Executive President as a minister, except as permitted by the Constitution.
APNU has rejected the ruling, while the AFC said it will stand by it.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, on Tuesday, commended the Speaker for rising above partisan politics. Minister Nandlall made the comment during a television interview on the National Communications Network focusing on the Speaker’s ruling.