Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who is currently acting as president, yesterday charged that the opposition’s motion of no-confidence against the government is an act of “provocation,” which he called insensitive while the sitting president is out of the country for medical attention.
“Where is the Guyanese attitude of compassion? Of caring? Of showing concern for your brother’s concern? For their hurt at this time?” Nagamootoo questioned, while speaking at a joint press conference held yesterday by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) at Congress Place, Sophia headquarters of the PNCR.
Addressing the motion, which the PPP/C is seeking to have debated in the National Assembly, Nagamootoo yesterday said that the motives behind it are not those claimed by opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
“I believe it was a politically insensitive and childish move,” he said, adding that it is based on the false premise that the PPP/C having gained some ground in a local government elections meant that a current administration was defeated.
Jagdeo told a press conference on Thursday that the motion, which is in his name, calls for a declaration of no-confidence in the David Granger-led APNU+AFC government, which he accused of corruption and mismanagement.
“Clearly people are unhappy with the direction of the country; [with the] policies and practice of government…. Government has no vision. We are drifting, they have absolutely no plan for Guyana. They are using up our money on frivolous things, such as celebrations, food and rentals [and] they are borrowing a lot. They are damaging our prospects for the future,” Jagdeo said, while noting that the worse that can happen is that government uses its one-seat majority to defeat the motion.
The passage of the motion, which would trigger the holding of new general elections within 90 days, would require the support of at least one government Member of Parliament (MP).
PNCR Chairman and Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, who was present at the press conference, however, was firm that no government MP would support it. Lawrence said, “Let me say it loud and clear: We are not for sale.”
The PNCR, which is led by Granger, is the main constituent of APNU, which is the lead partner in the governing coalition.
Lawrence said, “The idle rantings by Mr Jagdeo will not scare any member of this government.”
On allegations of corruption in government, she added that the coalition is willing to investigate any matter that comes before it in relation to discrepancies for anyone who would have broken the law. This has been done in commissions of inquiry held under the current administration, she noted, while adding that the same could not be said during Jagdeo’s term in office.
Government can point to many instances of corruption during the Jagdeo administration, she further said, while observing that “under the Jagdeo administration, corruption was the bread and butter of this country.”
Although the motion was not expected to be debated when the National Assembly met yesterday, government postponed the sitting to brief its MPs on the situation.
‘Holding it together’
Questioning the political worth of the motion, Nagamootoo suggested that it was intended to sow division.
A minority cannot assume, he said, “that it could succeed in the parliament. It cannot assume, speculatively, that the alliance is divisive. The alliance is cohesive, it is united, it is strong and we are holding it together,” he declared.
After failing to reach agreement with APNU, AFC contested the just-concluded local government polls on its own and some of its candidates criticised its partner during campaigning, signalling deep rifts. In light of President Granger’s cancer diagnosis, both partners have publicly reaffirmed that the coalition remains united and strong.
The PPP, Nagamootoo surmised, is using the result of the local government elections as “some sort of referendum” to argue that government should resign.
“This is not Donald Ramotar. This is Granger and Nagamootoo. So there will be no surrender,” Nagamootoo said, referring to the no-confidence motion in his name that forced the former administration to prorogue parliament and hold early elections.
Jagdeo’s motion, he said, is intended to breathe disaffection in the country and to stir the fever of divisiveness that the PPP stoked in various communities.
“Because I know—I come from Berbice— the level of ethnic division and hate and rancor they have sown into that community. They have to now find a fig leaf to cover their shame of what they did during the campaign,” he said.
Meanwhile, Second Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge described the motion as “very opportunistic.”
Like Nagamootoo, he said, “It is trying to take advantage of what is a situation that in normal circumstances would be regarded as distasteful. You take advantage of somebody else’s challenges or misfortunes to try to create political capital.”
While Jagdeo was claiming that he was moving the motion in the national interest, Greenidge said, “It is for the nation to make that decision. It cannot be in the national interest to knowingly put in place to lay before the house a motion which simply seeks to take an opportunity to sow division within the nation.”
Noting that attention should be focused on the impending presentation of the national budget, he said the budget was very important because of all the things that need to be addressed. “Here is an attempt by the Leader of the Opposition arguing that it is in the national interest to try and stymie or divert the debate or the attention of the public from a pressing an important matter of national significance. It is I am afraid, not in the national interest at all, so I reject that assertion,” he argued.