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January 1st, 2010

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Clarification on Government can spend up to November 30, 2015 without approval

November 14th, 2014

One person has raised directly with me, and another through the Stabroek News blog, asking for clarification or explanation on how I arrived at the date of November 30, 2015 to which a re-elected PPP/C could spend money without going to the National Assembly.

I set out below a Table showing the Timeline based on my understanding of the Constitution of Guyana and the assumption that the PPP/C is re-elected, whether as a majority or on a plurality. It also assumes that the PPP/C will take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the increasingly exposed anti-democratic Constitution.

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Government can spend up to November 30, 2015 without approval

November 13th, 2014

The President has done what many, I included, feared he would – but still hoped he would not do – prorogue the National Assembly. In so doing President Ramotar was exercising a power that then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham retained for himself under the Constitution of 1980.

The power to prorogue which Mr. Burnham as Prime Minister enjoyed under the Independence Constitution through the Governor General was intended for a different purpose than for which Mr. Ramotar used it. It was intended simply to close one session of the National Assembly. With each session of the National Assembly now firmly set by Standing Orders authorised under Article 165 of the Constitution, the prorogation should have become otiose and abolished. The use of it is clearly a retrograde step.
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Prorogation, dissolution or no confidence – that is the question

November 9th, 2014

Responding to the latest confirmation by the parliamentary opposition party the Alliance for Change (AFC) that it was proceeding with the vote of no confidence against his Government, President Donald Ramotar threatened to prorogue or dissolve the National Assembly. This threat has led to some discussion and even speculation on the Constitution of Guyana, the powers of the National Assembly and the role of the Standing Orders of the Assembly.

This e-column seeks to explore the options of dissolution, prorogation or a no-confidence resolution with the understanding that a fourth option – no action in regard to any of the other three – is now not available. This fourth option has to be ruled in the face of the repeated insistence by the AFC that it would not back down, the restatements by the APNU to unqualified support for the AFC’s motion and the various responses by the Ramotar Administration PPP/C.
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Clerk needs to explain why he is now excluding discretion of Speaker to convene the Assembly when the public interest requires it

October 18th, 2014

The Stabroek News of October 16, 2014 reports the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sherlock Isaacs as saying that it was up to the government to set a date for the next parliamentary sitting. The report suggests that the statement followed the failure of the Chief Whips for both the government and opposition to find consensus on a date.

The National Assembly is subject to the Standing Orders, the authority of which no one disputes and which was recognised by Chief Justice (ag.) Ian Chang in the celebrated “budget cuts” case. It may be useful therefore to refer to the Standing Order 8, 2 taken from the website of the National Assembly under the name of the same Mr. Isaacs.

Here is the text, including the heading:

Sitting convened at the discretion of the Speaker

(2) If, during an adjournment of the Assembly, it is represented to the Speaker by the Government, or the Speaker is of the opinion, that the public interest requires that the Assembly should meet on a day earlier than that to which it stands adjourned, the Speaker may give notice accordingly and the Assembly shall meet at the time stated in such notice. The Clerk shall as soon as possible inform each Member in writing, or telegram or by appropriate electronic means.

Mr. Isaacs needs to explain why he is now excluding the discretion of the Speaker to convene the Assembly when the public interest requires it. Now if a Motion of “No Confidence” is not a matter of public interest then Mr. Isaacs might like to tell us what is.

There are three further problems I have with Mr. Isaacs. The first is whether he believes in the separation of powers; the second is why he would consider himself the person who should pronounce on the operation of the Standing Orders and finally whether he can advise on the source of the authority of the Chief Whips to determine the convening of the National Assembly.

Sad state of the judiciary

October 11th, 2014

Today I want to turn the spotlight on the country’s judiciary but before I do so I will briefly recap on four exchanges in the newspapers between the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs through its Permanent Secretary, Ms. Indira Anandjit, and me.

In her second letter published on October 10 Ms. Anandjit outdoes her first on October 8 in terms of abuse, distortions and outright untruthful statements. But there was a twist. She resorted to accusing me of chauvinism, claiming, dishonestly, that I “insinuated” that she did not write the first letter of which she is yet to assert ownership. What I said is that “Mr Nandlall would shelter under the coattails of his Permanent Secretary from which to throw pebbles at me.”

Ms. Anandjit’s call for help in the name of chauvinism is equally dishonest. In my letter in the Stabroek News of October 7, critical of Anil Nandlall’s inaction on the Judicial Review Act, I did not mention her name or refer to her even once. Yet, responding in defence of Nandlall, she used the opportunity on October 8 to attack me by name eleven times. In my second letter on October 9, I mentioned her name peripherally two times. In her response on October 10, she continued her personal attack, referring to me by name eight times. Now, nineteen times against two hardly supports any genuine cri de Coeur of misogynistic victimhood.
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