Guyanese voters could go to the polls a full two years before general elections are constitutionally due if the combined parliamentary opposition wins a no confidence vote against the government later this month President Donald Ramotar said this week.
Sensing the inevitable, Ramotar took to the airways Tuesday night to tell a not too surprised nation that he will dissolve the 65-member house if A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) decide to push ahead with plans to bring down his administration with the vote and force it to call general elections in 90 days as mandated by local laws.
The two have a one seat majority in the 65-member house.
The AFC had in September filed a flawless one-line no confidence motion against the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration accusing it of widespread breaches of local laws, encouraging graft, spending hundreds of millions on projects and state activities, encouraging private death squads to thrive without any parliamentary oversight.
Ramotar said that if the two parties refuse to scrub their plans, ignore pending bills in the house and decide on no confidence, “I resolve to respond immediately by exercising my constitutional options to either prorogue or dissolve parliament paving the way for holding of general elections.”
Ramotar then named named Monday, Nov. 10 as the first sitting of the house since its annual recess ended a month ago. Until he took to state radio and television to outline his counter plans for the opposition, Ramotar had been under severe pressure to name a date for the resumption of parliamentary sessions as he and cabinet had used one excuse from another to delay a restart after the summer recess had ended amazingly since Oct. 10.
The two parties in separate statements since Ramotar’s address have both said they have every intention of voting to collapse the government amid a background of alleged runaway corruption and graft, the closeness of authorities to the drug trade and the steady and the refusal of Ramotar to sign off on a plethora of opposition bills and motions passed by the current parliament among other issues.
And if the opposition has its way as is widely expected, Guyanese could go to the polls early next year to elect a government. The Indo-led PPP has been in office since dethroning the People’s National Congress (PNC) in 1992 and has survived a string of highly publicized controversies including the hiring of known local and international drug dealers and hit men to operate as policemen, hunting down and killing criminal suspects and petty thieves over a two-year period in the past decade.
Rights groups have since published a dossier with at least 400 names of suspects who were executed during the period, suggesting that in any other civilized region of the world, any other government would have long been kicked out of office but for its loyal Indian support base.
In his address, the head of state stayed clear of the controversy involving Attorney General Anil Nandlall who was last week caught on audio tape warning a local reporter to leave the job because he was aware that gunmen were planning to spray its editorial office with bullets in a situation where “Peter would pay for Paul.”
Nandlall has so far survived calls from key groups in civil society to step down but could eventually be forced out if the Kaieteur News decides to release additional damming information it has on him.