APNU Leader David Granger yesterday said the main opposition coalition would give support to the AFC’s planned no-confidence motion against government, setting the stage for new general elections.
“The shadow cabinet met today and we are in full support,” Granger told Stabroek News.
The APNU leader said that while some have opined that the coalition was not ready for general elections, he was confident that the combined opposition can ensure a change in government where the PPP/C will not regain control over the executive.
President Donald Ramotar has said on several occasions that his government and party are prepared to face the consequences of a motion of no-confidence.
Granger said that the motion was discussed in detail with APNU’s shadow cabinet members and the decision made.
However, he explained that since APNU was made up of a number of parties, it will soon be meeting those partners to discuss the decision but he was sure that those groups would also agree.
AFC’s Vice-Chairman Moses Nagamootoo, who had initially raised the prospect of moving a no-confidence motion against the government in June, told Stabroek News that APNU’s support was “very welcome” news.
“I think that the AFC is pleased by this outcome and we are trying to set up a meeting between APNU and the AFC to fine-tune the issue of timing. We accept as the AFC’s roadmap that we want this motion tabled on or before the 10th of August or before the recess and now it seems that we have an assurance of support,” he noted.
He said that the next step was to meet with APNU. “They wanted to see more flesh so we will discuss what it is the APNU wants,” he noted.
Stabroek News asked Nagamootoo whether the AFC will be submitting the motion to the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs following its discussion with APNU but he said he could not give a response as yet. “We want to be able to know that this assurance that we have here is that it is a bankable assurance; that the no-confidence in fact would pass,” he explained.
He told Stabroek News that following a planned meeting with APNU today, it may be possible for the motion to be tabled before the recess. In order to have the motion laid before the National Assembly, however, the AFC would need to submit the motion formally to Isaacs within a specified time period. “We want this motion to succeed and not just be tabled,” Nagamootoo explained, while noting that that while precipitant was Financial Paper No.1/2014, which was laid before the House, it was yet to be debated and this was not what the AFC intended.
The government’s controversial Financial Paper No 1/2014, which was submitted by Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh on June 19, was the catalyst for the proposal to pursue a no-confidence motion. Through the Statement of Excess, Singh had authorised $4.5 billion out of the $37.4 billion that was disapproved by the opposition from the original $220 billion 2014 national budget.
Government has come under questioning for the lag in debating the Financial Paper. After submitting the Statement of Excess on June 19, the National Assembly met again on July 10 but Singh was absent. The government did not proceed with the paper and the contentious item was not on the Parliamentary agenda due to the minister’s absence.
The government ap-pears to be holding back on the motion so as not to give the opposition an immediate forum for the no-confidence vote.
Nagamootoo stressed that the AFC was still committed to “reasonableness” and the window for the government to compromise was still open. The AFC recently laid out a 10-point plan for the administration to act on but there is no sign of any development on this.
Observers have noted that the AFC’s seeming reliance on APNU has stalled the no-confidence process. Critics noted that the AFC could have simultaneously reached out to APNU and approached the National Assembly with their no-confidence motion as a sign of its commitment to the path.
Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Co-Leader of the Working People’s Alliance, the second most influential party in the coalition, said that he too would want the motion to be laid prior to the National Assembly’s recess.
However, he said that the likelihood of the no-confidence motion being brought before the recess was dim. He explained that since the AFC first raised the notion of a no-confidence vote against the government, APNU was under the impression that the motion would have been filed prior to the parliamentary recess.
He noted that he was cognisant of the amount of work the parties would need to do to prepare for the possibility of elections. “We would have a very short time to get into election mode. We have to look at Gecom (Guyana Elections Commission), given the catastrophe with the Chief Election Officer last time, we have to ensure that the machinery is in the right order,” he pointed out.
Roopnaraine said that tabling the motion prior to the recess “would give us 90 days, essentially three months that we have for us to go to the people, to reach out.”
Article 106(6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.” New elections would then have to be held in three months.
Roopnaraine also stated that as the head of the WPA, he was cognisant of the recent public relations issues that the People’s National Congress Reform is dealing with following its 18th Biennial Congress.