Opposition appears cautiously open to some talks with govt
A narrow fissure Saturday night appeared to have developed in the opposition’s hard-line position that there would be no talks with government unless President Donald Ramotar revokes the suspension of the Parliament.
Joining with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) at anti parliamentary prorogation rally at the Square of the Revolution, the Alliance For Change (AFC) called on the international community to dispatch a team of mediators to break the political impasse with the government.
For its part, APNU said it was tired of meaningless talks with government that yield agreements and decisions that the administration was unwilling to implement. At the same time, that parliamentary opposition alliance appeared to have left a tiny crevice open for future talks with the government. APNU/Working People’s Alliance (WPA) executive member, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine described as “utter rubbish” talk that Opposition Leader, David Granger has shut the door to future discussions with government.
“We have been entirely willing to sit with them and hold discussions and come to agreements but I ask you what is the point of sitting with them and coming to agreements when they will not implement what they themselves have agreed to do.
So we are not saying that we are unprepared to speak. What we are unprepared to do is to waste time in futile discussions with anybody,” said Roopnaraine.
Attendees, numbering about 2,500, were also told by Roopnaraine that there were plans to engage in active discussions with trade unions, and religious organisations on how to escape the clutches of tyranny. “We intend to mobilize a broad coalition of forces to fight for the restoration of democracy,” he said.
He restated earlier appeals for the Parliament to be reconvened at the earliest opportunity. President Ramotar has, however, stated that if there was no consensus, he would dissolve the Parliament and call fresh elections rather than revoke and re-prorogue the law-making body. The current voters list is valid until Janiuary 31, 2015.
Reacting to House Speaker Raphael Trotman’s formal request to the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma to dispatch a team to help find a peaceful solution, President Donald Ramotar preferred to allow locals to first attempt to find solutions. “I think we should try ourselves first to try to deal with some of these issues before we jump to see if we need assistance from outside,” he said. The President also announced Friday that he was assembling a team of negotiators before inviting the opposition to talks.
AFC Chairman, Nigel Hughes said he hoped that international partners could join Guyanese in helping to salvage Guyana from a constitutional crisis and deep unchartered waters. “Fundamentally, the constitution is our real enemy in its current form because it legitimizes the fangs of dictatorship that is sucking the life-blood out of the soul of Guyana,” he said.
“The Alliance For Change is further calling on the international community to come to the assistance of Guyana by engaging all parties and civil society in a formal structured dialogue on the restoration of normality in the governance of this country which means the immediate reconvening of Parliament,” he said. He identified the need for the international community to facilitate mediation sessions with all stakeholders aimed at finding an acceptable way out of the current crisis.
Hughes reiterated that constitutional reform would be the only lasting solution to Guyana’s decades-old problems.
The three-hour long rally was peppered with rhetoric at the first public meeting since President Donald Ramotar prorogued the Parliament on Monday to stave off a no-confidence motion that would have seen his government fall and elections held in 90 days.
Hughes reiterated the opposition’s position that no talks would be held with government on matters before the National Assembly while the Parliament remains prorogued.
The AFC’s tabling of the no-confidence motion was triggered by the government’s spending of monies on projects and programmes although the opposition had voted against such allocations during consideration of the 2015 Budgetary Estimates of Expenditure.
Other unresolved issues include the opposition’s failure to approve the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFTAF)-compliant amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Act as well as the Education and Telecommunications Bills and the establishment of the constitutionally required Public Procurement Commission.
The Organisation of American States (OAS), sections of the local private sector and the Roman Catholic Church here have called for an early end to the suspension of the Parliament.
The opposition, which enjoys a combined one-seat majority in the 65-seat House, has already threatened to re-table the no-confidence motion if Parliament is reconvened.
Resistance will continue until General Elections – APNU, AFC
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) last evening shared the stage with the Alliance for Change (AFC) at a massive rally venued at the Square of the Revolution to hear from the thousands who turned out so that their input can be crafted into a strategy to respond to the President’s Proclamation to prorogue Parliament.
Young and old, male and female, abled and disabled turned out in a resounding show of support and were in unison with the leaders who called for, among other things, immediate General Elections and Constitutional Reform.
The rally started shortly before 18:00hrs and lasted for just over three hours and saw presentations from Opposition Leader David Granger, AFC Chairman, Nigel Hughes, Working Peoples’ Alliance (WPA) Leader Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Guyana Youth and Student Movement Leader, Ryan Belgrade and Members of Parliament Basil Williams, Keith Scott, Volda Lawrence and Sydney Allicock.
Brigadier (rtd) Granger who was introduced as the ‘President in waiting’ was welcomed to the podium amidst a reverberating applause and wasted no time in denouncing President Ramotar whom he labeled a dictator.
According to the Opposition leader, for three years the President has not reached out to the thousands who voted for the joint opposition at the 2011 elections.
He accused the President of being oblivious to the plights of the ordinary people since he lives among the ‘big shots’
Granger was adamant that over the past three years the President has refused to discuss pertinent issues of concern to the political opposition and the people they represent including the holding of Local Government Elections among other big ticket items.
Calling for immediate elections, Granger reminded that at the last elections more than 120,000 people did not vote and said this must not be repeated.
He said that APNU has been meeting with people across the country including at places once considered PPP strongholds and the feedback is that they are fed up with the ruling administration.
“People all over want development and the administration is not delivering that,” said Granger.
The President, he said is ducking the issues and “we must stop this ducking behaviour.”
“You have brought the Square of the Revolution alive because you want to tell Ramotar that the PPP must go…He can duck but he got to come up for air.”
Granger sent a warning to President Ramotar that as soon as he reconvenes the Parliament, he will be met with a no confidence motion and a united opposition.
“Go Donald go, go out of government,” was the chant led by the Opposition leader who remarked that the thousands who turned up at Square of the Revolution last evening wanted to send a message that they are fed up with the lies and deceit of the Administration.
AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes was also welcomed to the podium with a boisterous ovation. In his usual articulate manner he pledged the support of his party in the fight against the ‘dictatorship’ that the President has invoked.
According to Hughes, the President by proclamation has transformed Guyana from a Republic to that of a Kingdom where he rules by proclamation.
Hughes warned that the current state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue and Guyanese must know that regardless of their political persuasion, race or religion, every citizen will be affected by Ramotar’s decision and that all Guyanese must “stand up.”
He was adamant that when the Republic is threatened all are affected regardless of which party they support.
Hughes warned that these are serious times and the issue at hand is not something to joke about and that Guyanese can’t allow their children to walk back to colonialism.
He said that the message from AFC is that the President’s action has plunged the country into a crisis; into deep uncharted waters and is an egregious wrong that must be righted.
The AFC, he said, will be unwavering in holding government to account. Time is of the essence and timely action is necessary if the country is to avoid long term damage, according to Hughes.
The AFC Chairman also called on the international community to come to the assistance of Guyana in resolving the impasse.
He was adamant that even the framers of the Constitution could not envisage that it would be used in such a “vulgar way.”
Hughes said that what has happened must serve as the last straw and that solutions have to be permanent, beginning with the reform of the Constitution in order to save the country.
WPA Leader, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, declared that the leadership of the party has embarked on the setting up of a broad coalition meant to include civil society, trade unions, churches and other stakeholders in order to chart and participate in the way forward.
Dr. Roopnarine said that there are indications that the President may want to dissolve parliament before six months and call election but “we in APNU ready.”
He reminded that the ruling PPP were staunch advocates of Parliament and its importance but this appears to have changed.
According to Dr. Roopnarine, “we will not be cowed, we will not be threatened.”
In vowing to sustain the resistance, Dr. Roopnarine warned that “we if necessary will put our lives on the line to preserve democracy.”
He was adamant that when the President, by proclamation excludes the joint opposition from the House, he is effectively excluding the people’s representation in the House.
According to Dr. Roopnarine, in the coming weeks the joint opposition will be calling on the people of Guyana from time to time in building an ocean of rebellion.
“We are at the starting of the long march” he said.
Responding to the Administration’s repeated overtures for talks, like the AFC leader who promised that there will be no extra parliamentary talks, Dr. Roopnarine said that they are not prepared to engage in futile discussions.
President assures the nation… Prorogation will not affect Guyana’s development
THE prorogation of Parliament, a decision President Donald Ramotar took last Monday, can last for six months, at the maximum, according to the Constitution.However, the Head of State at a news conference last Friday, made it clear that during the prorogation period, the development of the country will not be held back.
“I will not hold back development of our country if we are getting good investments…I do not know why anyone would want to stymie the development of our country if we are getting good investments; and we (the Government) would be acting perfectly legally and constitutionally by dealing with any investments that we have,” he told the media at his news conference, which was held at the Office of the President on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive.
The President’s comments follow threats by the Opposition that any agreement inked during the period of prorogation will not be honoured. However, these threats have left the Head of State unmoved.
“If we judge things (investments) by a case by case basis, and we determined that this is good for the country then we will go ahead,” Mr. Ramotar stressed.
His decision to suspend Parliament was by way of a prorogation proclamation, which essentially means that the current session is suspended up to a maximum of six months – a move that is provided for in Section 70 (1) of Guyana’s Constitution. The effect of ending a session by prorogation is to terminate business.
As a result, the Alliance for Change (AFC) no-confidence motion was not considered. The main Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had, prior to Monday, 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.
According to the Head of State the move to prorogation was intended to pave the way for greater dialogue among political parties, while keeping the 10th Parliament alive. However, Mr. Ramotar has made it clear that if these efforts prove futile, there will be a move to fresh general elections.
The prorogation has not had significant impact on Guyana’s ability to attract major foreign direct investments, even as the private sector and civil society, after meetings with the President, have called for dialogue among the local political parties.
As recently as last Wednesday, indications of investor confidence were clear, with two massive investments being announced – a GY$1B investment by Rubis Guyana Inc. to increase local fuel supply and a US$200M by Exxon Mobil into offshore oil exploration.
Additionally, the mid-year report on the performance of the local economy indicated that despite the challenges facing global and regional economies, as well as the new political situation locally, Guyana has been able to record a 3.2 per cent growth in the economy.
The Guyanese economy has experienced eight consecutive years of growth up to 2013 and is projected to expand by a further 5.6 per cent by the end of 2014.