In less than 10 minutes last week, one of Guyana’s two parliamentary opposition parties opened the door to the impending collapse of the administration of President Donald Ramotar formally filing a parliamentary no confidence motion while complaining that it was tired of runaway corruption, breaches of local laws and the constitution and effectively cutting Ramotar’s five-year term by more than two years.
A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) hold a single seat majority in the 65-member parliament and once every legislator turns out to vote, the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is on course to lose the House vote and forced to resign and call general elections in 90 days.
Its other option is to pre-empt the two parties and call general elections on its own but it is widely known to fear such a move as it has been slowly but surely losing support after a withering 22 years in office, compounded by its closeness to the drug trade, the inexplicable wealth of cabinet members and other high officials and its saturation of the governmental system with friends and family of the ruling elite.
The AFC’s David Patterson deliberately timed the handing in of the one line motion to Clerk of Parliament Sherlock Isaacs just days before the assembly went on its two-month annual recess giving both sides time to prepare for the vote when sessions resume in early October and to organize general election campaigns that are certain to have been fully ramped up by the time legislators raise their hands in the affirmative.
Officials say that the administration is so embarrassed by the AFC’s move and the decision by APNU to fully back it with its 26 seats that it will likely call early elections and avoid the political and national indignity of becoming the first administration in the country to be kicked out by frustrated and angry opposition parliamentarians.
Officials also say that government has in the past week called in several key advisers to determine whether there were any flaws in the oneline motion but it was made clear to Cabinet Secretary Roger Luncheon that the motion was without blemish and cannot be challenged in court.
PPP insiders had hoped that the AFC would have proffered and attached reasons for filing the motion, giving it the excuse to take the matter to court and prolong its life but Patterson said that AFC executives and lawyers spent hundreds of hours researching other precedents in the UK, India and even Trinidad before deciding on the deadly one liner that is on course to bring down the Ramotar administration in the coming weeks.
One serious charge that both the APNU, the AFC, western diplomats, rights groups and social activists hold against the administration is the government’s stubborn refusal to organize local government elections despite the fact that none has been held since 1994.
For example, City Mayor Hamilton Green at, 80, now has the unwanted record of being the longest serving city boss in the country history by default, while other municipalities have exhausted list of candidates to replace councilors who have died, quit or migrated.
And despite its protestations that the elections commission is not ready for general elections, agency Chief Steve Surujbally has several times publicly dismissed such claims from cabinet ministers and other high officials saying it is only awaiting a date from Ramotar.