Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that following the passage of a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, the APNU+AFC government has “diminished authority” and can only function as a caretaker government until such time as General and Regional Elections are held.
“The framers of our constitution intended…to ensure government acts only in a caretaker fashion in the period allowed by Article 106 (7). Normal duties come to a halt with the exception of those relating to functioning of government because you can’t have a vacuum in government,” Jagdeo said at a press conference yesterday.
On Friday, a motion of no-confidence in the David Granger-led government was carried 33 to 32 in the National Assembly after government MP Charrandas Persaud defected and voted with the Opposition PPP/C. Jagdeo yesterday indicated that he has since received official communication from Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs confirming the vote and has been contacted by President David Granger through Minister of State Joseph Harmon, on the way forward.
“The President…is prepared to meet you early in January 2019,” Jagdeo read from the letter sent to him, to those gathered at his Church Street office.
A precise date and time for the meeting is set to be communicated once Granger has returned from Cuba where he travels today to continue treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Article 106 (6) of the constitution says that “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.” Article 106 (7) adds that “notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
Jagdeo stressed that while confusion surrounds how the government functions after it has been defeated, his party’s position is that it becomes a “caretaker” government.
“We believe that the routine functioning of the state must go on,” Jagdeo said, identifying the Education, Health and Security sectors as some which must continue to operate.
He, however, emphasised that “anything outside the routine functioning of the State must come to a halt because the government has fallen. They have diminished authority.”
In order to ensure that Government does not exceed its authority during this period, Jagdeo has called on public servants to be extra vigilant. “We will have now enhanced scrutiny of the government in many areas. This is a message to the public servants and the people of Guyana but mainly to those who function in the government at the technical level. We are worried that there will be a mad grab in spite of the public rhetoric of a resounding victory in the coming elections,” said Jagdeo.
He speculated that the coalition might attempt to accelerate “unsavory deals” and stressed that evidence already exists of less than legal happenings which will be investigated if his party wins the upcoming elections.
“I’d say to all the public servants, guard themselves, do not be pressured to do anything illegal…keep records…protect themselves from illegality because we know they are being heavily influenced by political directions. The public servants have a bigger role to play in a caretaker role,” he said, calling specifically on the secretary of the treasury to ensure that the financial laws of the country are followed.
A specific area of concern the Leader of the Opposition highlighted, was the sale of “large tracts of land” to APNU supporters especially surrounding the Enmore estate.