Following prorogation of Parliament… President not ‘utterly’ convinced there will be no talks – says in politics private and public positions sometimes differ
LEADER of the Opposition Brigadier (rtd.) David Granger has not officially responded to a letter from President Donald Ramotar, dated November 18, inviting him for talks, following the prorogation of Parliament on November 10.
However, Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS), Dr. Roger Luncheon, yesterday disclosed that President Ramotar is not “utterly” convinced that the doors have been closed to dialogue.
He said, “Politics is that art of making the impossible possible…issues can be so clear cut in terms of its exposition in the public eye, in the media and yet, as history has shown, there is room for negotiations.”
The Head of State’s invitation for talks have been dumped by the combined Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC). Both parties have publicly insisted that there will be no dialogue until Parliament is reconvened.
In proroguing Parliament, Mr. Ramotar was emphatic that the move to prorogation was intended to pave the way for greater dialogue among political parties, while keeping the 10th Parliament alive to address the critically important issues currently before the National Assembly.
Despite the rejection of the invitation for talks there have been calls to regional and international bodies to assist local politicians in overcoming the current political impasse. 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.
Dr. Luncheon said, “Goat didn’t bite the body politic in Guyana and there is no reason for us to believe that we could draw the line in Guyana to say to politicians that whatever you say in public resonates with what you do in private.”CALLS FOR ELECTIONS Additionally, APNU’s weekly protests, every Tuesday, outside of Office of the President, which started out as a call for local government elections, this week have included a call for general elections.
Responding to the fact that APNU as well as several other stakeholders have called for a move to early general elections, the HPS reiterated that this will be the outcome once the President is convinced that there can be no dialogue.
“He (President Ramotar) needs to be utterly convinced and to the extent that he has not acted (not called general elections) means that, notwithstanding the protestations, he is not convinced,” Dr. Luncheon said.
“…the President’s rejoinder to this situation has, to some extent, contributed (to the call) because he did say he will not prorogate more than once….he said once I am convinced that prorogation and its objectives are not going anywhere, we are and we will go to general and regional elections…if elections are called it would be responding to calls that have been made by everyone plus the cat’s mouth.”
The combined Opposition’s rejection of President Ramotar’s invitation comes after the Head of State has, as recently as two weeks ago, expressed optimism that the combined Opposition will reconsider their ‘first position’, in which they rejected the possibility of talks.
According to Dr. Luncheon, the current Administration is presently working “aggressively” to persuade the combined Opposition of the merits of dialogue.
“We are past hoping. We are actively on the road of persuading. It is more than hoping….I don’t believe we are leaving the destiny of the country to hope….we are pursuing dialogue, we are not hoping by any means,” he said.
The HPS, however, declined to disclose the means by which this effort is being undertaken.
“I am not allowed to divulge the practices of the political parties…I would not be able to speak (with assurance) of such interventions,” he said.
The HPS maintained that not having dialogue would translate to a missed opportunity.
Last week, he pointed out that the loss of a “golden” opportunity extended to the fact that there are several important areas of work in the National Assembly that ought to be dealt with at the earliest, as opposed to having them carried over to an 11th Parliament, which would be constituted after general elections.
Some of these matters include: the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill, which is in Parliamentary Special Select Committee; the second readings of the Education Bill 2014, the Land Surveyors Bill 2014 and the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2014 are up for a second reading. 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 for the Rights of the Child Commission (ROC) and the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
“Cabinet felt that there needs to be some understanding of the result of this choice (rejecting the invitation for talks…as opposed to what dialogue offers…this (dialogue) would be giving us a chance, even if it is a last chance,” Dr. Luncheon said.
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.