Guyana now faces “Constitutional Crisis” over Sitting of National Assembly

Guyana now faces “Constitutional Crisis” over Sitting of National Assembly

The refusal of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, to accede to a request of the Speaker to convene a Sitting of the National Assembly, may have resulted into the country being faced with a Constitutional crisis.

The Speaker had written the Clerk, requesting that he begin making arrangements to convene a Sitting of the National Assembly on November 6, 2014. On Wednesday the Clerk responded to the Speaker by pointing out that “I am still of the firm opinion that, in the present circumstances, you do not have  the power under Standing Order 8 (1) and (2) to request that I make arrangements for a Sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday, 6th November, 2014″.

Trotman in response to that missive issued a statement on Wednesday evening and warned of a Constitutional crisis. He pointed out in that statement that “the effect of the Clerk’s decision not to convene the sitting has the effect of crippling the ability of the Members of Parliament to meet. This in itself brings the Constitution into derision and disregard and cannot be what the framers of our Constitution intended”.

Speaker Trotman further stated that “as a majority of Members have indicated their desire for the National Assembly to meet, the nation is confronted with a clear and unvarnished constitutional crisis”.

“As the sitting Speaker, I invite all well thinking Guyanese to join me in examining all viable options and avenues to break the impasse in the interest of our beloved nation. in this regard I stand ready to entertain all reasonable suggestions and anticipate an early closure of this unfortunate development”, Trotman pleaded.

The Clerk of the National Assembly believes that it is the Government that must request a Sitting of the National Assembly although it’s the combined Opposition that has the majority. The Government has so far refused to request a convening of a sitting and the Opposition parties believe it is shying away from a sitting because of the no confidence motion that is hanging over its head. That AFC motion which the APNU has indicated it will support, is expected to be moved and debated in the National Assembly once it reconvenes.

Trotman is convinced that he has the power to request the sitting of the National Assembly and is of the view that Isaacs’ refusal is as a result of a “narrow interpretation” of the Standing Orders of the Assembly.

“This is a most unfortunate position arrived at, and obviously arises out of a very narrow interpretation of the Standing Orders, and of the prevailing circumstances whereby the National Assembly entered into recess and has emerged from that recess, and a majority of Members desire to meet.  The National Assembly must resume sittings and cannot be bound by the whims of the Executive branch to have to await its consent before meeting. Such an interpretation flies in the face of the doctrine of separation of powers, and the constitutional  right of the elected representatives to meet to perform their functions”, Trotman declared.

Filed:  30th October, 2014

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