AN announcement on the way forward, following the much-talked-about November 10 prorogation of Parliament, can be expected shortly.
This is according to President Donald Ramotar, who made the surprise announcement yesterday at the opening of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha’s annual Festival of Art Forms, popularly known as ‘Kala Utsav’.
“I do not intend to recall the Parliament and prorogue it again. Very soon, I will be making an announcement on the way forward,” he told the packed to capacity gathering at the Dharmic Sanskritik Kendra, in suburban Prashad Nagar, where the event was held.
His decision comes in the wake of Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier (Rtd.) David Granger’s reluctance to officially respond to a letter, dated November 18, inviting him for talks, following the prorogation of Parliament on November 10.
Both APNU and the Alliance for Change (AFC) have made it clear that they will not engage the President in talks unless the prorogation is lifted and Parliamentary work resumes.
Since the President’s move to prorogue Parliament, there have been varying sentiments from different sections of society, many being in support of the prorogation, which would facilitate dialogue in face of the current political impasse.
The President has always maintained that the need for dialogue was uppermost in his mind when he made his decision. Paving the way for greater dialogue among political parties, he contends, would have kept the 10th Parliament alive to address critically important issues currently before the National Assembly.
Some of these matters include: The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill, which is currently with the Parliamentary Special Select Committee; and the second reading of the Education Bill 2014, the Land Surveyors Bill 2014, and the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2014.
Also among the Bills scheduled for a first reading are the Food Safety Bill 2014, and the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) (Amendment) Bill 2014.
Other important matters before the National Assembly include the appointment of Members to the Rights of the Child Commission (ROC) and the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
MERITS OF DIALOGUE
Additionally, despite the combined Opposition’s rejection of the President’s invitation for talks, the merits of dialogue seem to have been acknowledged, since there have been calls to regional and international bodies to assist local politicians in overcoming the political gridlock. The first such call was made by AFC Executive and Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman. He wrote the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to invite a delegation that will engage all sides, in the interest of moving past the act of prorogation.
The effect of ending the first session of the 10th Parliament via prorogation is the termination of the business of the National Assembly.
As a result the AFC sponsored no-confidence motion was not considered. Also APNU had, prior to November 10, signalled its intent to support the push through of the motion. Had it not been for the proclamation to prorogue Parliament, if the no-confidence motion was passed, Guyana would have been headed to early general elections within three months.
However, Mr. Ramotar has made it clear that if these efforts prove futile, there will be a move to early general elections.
If there is a move to general elections, it would come more than a year early. The last general and regional elections were held in November 2011.