Parliament divided over committees

-PPP/C refuses to nominate representatives

Government and the opposition are at sharp odds over the number of members for influential Parliamentary committees and APNU says the PPP/C has refused to nominate its representatives.

The present deadlock has also revealed hints of discontent by the opposition parties with new Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman who remains the leader of the AFC.

A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change on February 10, 2012 combined forces to win control over Parliament’s Committee of Selection. This committee gets to preside over the composing of the standing and other committees of Parliament and currently comprises five members from the opposition and four from the PPP/C. The PPP/C had originally wanted the committee to comprise five from the government and five from the opposition but the opposition voted against this.

APNU in a statement today said that when the Committee of Selection met last Friday to elect members of the various committees of Parliament, it was agreed after intense arguments that the number of members of the committees would be reduced from 10 to 9. The APNU statement said that this configuration was in full compliance with the pertinent Parliamentary standing order which said that the committees should as far as possible reflect  the balance in parliament. Based on this principle, the opposition would have five seats on each committee and the government four. This means that the opposition would effectively control these committees as had been expected following the November 28 general elections which gave the opposition control of Parliament.

APNU said that it and the AFC have since named members to the parliament committees but that the PPP/C has refused to name its representatives. The PPP/C has repeatedly charged that APNU and the AFC have flouted parliamentary conventions by dominating selections at various levels. The opposition has rejected this.

After the dispute over the size of the committees, APNU today said that Speaker of the National Assembly Trotman “proceeded on a historical review” at the meeting of the Committee of Selection and suggested that the matter be discussed at the tripartite level.

APNU says this matter had been raised already at the tripartite level and that the opposition is “unmoved” on its proposal for nine-member committees. It added that another meeting of the Committee of Selection was scheduled for today but there was a call today from Parliament Office rescheduling it to Monday, March 12th. APNU said that no reason was given. APNU and the AFC in the statement today called for the PPP/C to respect the results of the elections and to proceed with the business of governance by naming its members. The parties also called on Speaker Trotman to perform his functions “without fear or favour, affection of ill will”.

APNU said that the opposition parties “acknowledge all historical facts but the work of the Parliament must go on”.

The APNU press release follows:

On Friday 24th February 2012, the elected Committee of Selection met for the purpose of electing members to various committees of the Parliament.

At that meeting, after intense arguments, we agreed that the numbers of the composition of the committees be changed from ten (10) to nine (9) members and this was carried by the majority of members of the Committee of Selection.

It must be noted that the Committee of Selection complied with every section of the Standing Orders of the Parliament which is in consonance with the Constitution of Guyana. The computation of the allocation of committee’s seats to Parliamentary Parties is reflected in Standing Order 94(1) which states:

“Every select committee shall be constituted as to ensure, as far as possible, that the balance of parties in the Assembly is reflected in the committee.”

Based on the computation the following is revealed:

Nine (9) members committee –                4 – PPP

4 – APNU

1 – AFC


Having agreed that the ten (10) members committee will be reduced to nine (9), we proceeded to name the representatives. A.P.N.U. and AFC nominated their members while the PPP/C refused to nominate their representatives.

Mr. Raphael Trotman, Speaker of the National Assembly proceeded on a historical review at this meeting, and then volunteered to suggest that this matter be discussed at the tripartite level.

It is important to note that, indeed, this matter was raised at the tripartite discussion and the Opposition is unmoved to change it proposal of nine (9) members committees.

Noteworthy is the fact that we believe in unity and consensus. In an effort to avoid gridlock and impasse, A.P.N.U. and the AFC are convinced that the nine (9) members committee is most likely to represent the public interest and to advance the work of the National Assembly.

The new date for the meeting of the Committee of Selection was scheduled for today, Friday 2nd March 2012. At approximately 11:00 hrs a call from the Parliament Office revealed that the meeting would be rescheduled for Monday 12th March 2012. No reason was given for this rescheduling. Today’s meeting was the date set for the nomination of the members of the committees.

A.P.N.U and the AFC, therefore, call on the PPP/C Administration to respect the results of the electorate and proceed with the business of governance. We condemn the fact that the Administration is attempting to manipulate the committees. Hence, we call on the Administration to illustrate magnanimity by co-operating with the reality.

We also call on the Speaker of the National Assembly, who happens to be the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, to execute his function “without fear or favour, affection or ill will.” We acknowledge all historical facts but the work of the Parliament must go on. The people of Guyana expect good governance.

A Partnership for National Unity (A.P.N.U)

Georgetown, Guyana

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