The AFC yesterday formally submitted its motion of no-confidence against the government to the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs and it is expected to come up in the October session.
Party Vice-Chairman and Member of Parliament (MP) Moses Nagamootoo signed the motion, which was seconded by Executive and MP Cathy Hughes, before the party’s General Secretary David Patterson and Treasurer Dominic Gaskin submitted it to the Clerk’s office by 2:30pm.
Gaskin told Stabroek News that after the brief conversation between the party and APNU on Wednesday, it was decided that there was no further hold ups. He added that it was decided by the AFC on the previous day that the motion would be submitted yesterday. He said that it was always the intention of the party to have the motion submitted prior to the parliamentary recess, which is set to commence on August 10th.
Asked by Stabroek News what the AFC’s intention moving forward was, Gaskin replied that it was now up the Clerk and the Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman to make a decision.
As it stands, the party does not anticipate that the motion would be formally dealt with prior to the recess. Barring an unscheduled sitting that is technically still possible, the motion will not be tabled until October when the recess ends.
Gaskin said that the AFC had not yet decided on a course of action moving forward, however the party “will have to gear up, we will have to do a lot of PR… we want the people to understand why we are doing this.”
He added that without public education, the no-confidence motion “makes no sense if the people aren’t with us.”
Meanwhile, the motion is now subject to the Clerk’s ruling on whether it can come up for debate and a vote that could end the life of the government and initiate new general elections.
Trotman yesterday told Stabroek News that the next step for the motion will be to ensure that it meets the standards criteria.
He revealed that he was fully prepared to call an emergency sitting of the National Assembly should he receive the request from a majority of parliamentarians. Trotman said that should the Clerk be satisfied with the motion and notifications from both the AFC and APNU requesting that they believe the no-confidence was of critical national importance, the House would be called out of recess.
“The reserve powers, they are not to be used whimsically. I would have to be convinced by the majority of the House that it is in the nation or public’s best interest,” Trotman explained. He said that also that there was no guarantee that the motion would immediately be up for debate once the National Assembly comes out of recess. In fact, Trotman noted that the process was dependent on the mover of the motion, Nagamootoo. He said “it remains the prerogative of the mover… assuming they want it debated immediately in October, that may be so.” He added, “A lot depends on these two months and if parties see the wisdom in calming things down.”
The AFC’s submission comes two days after main opposition APNU announced that it would be giving full support to the motion. Leader of APNU David Granger had told the Stabroek News that following a shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday the coalition was “in full support” of the motion. “The tide has turned against the PPP and we are very confident that the public is behind us and that the 22 years has taken a toll on them and they need change they deserve it,” he said.
The government’s controversial Financial Paper No 1/2014, which was submitted by Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh in June, 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.