Although both parliamentary opposition groups have reached consensus on support for a proposed no-confidence motion, the two are yet to officially meet to discuss the way forward.
The AFC has also not submitted the motion to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs. Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Isaacs said that the AFC has not been in contact with him to signal its intention of submitting a motion as yet and he has not formally received anything. Should an emergency sitting of the National Assembly be called, the opposition majority could move to suspend the Standing Orders to allow for the motion to be proceeded with at the sitting without prior notice.
Isaacs noted that the no-confidence motion would be a private member’s motion and as a result a 12-day period is generally required for submission to the Clerk. He said that he would review the motion, make his comments and send it to be reviewed to the Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, and the decision would be made on whether to place it on the Order Paper. APNU Deputy Leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine yesterday stated that following the coalition’s decision to offer its support to the AFC’s proposed motion, they have not met nor has there been any discussion on when the two will meet.
The AFC’s approach to its motion has come under criticism in some quarters due to the time the process has taken. Critics point out that following APNU’s indication of support, the parties should have scheduled a meeting immediately to iron out their strategy and how to proceed prior to the parliamentary recess, slated to commence on August 10.
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. 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.