No Confidence Motion Should be Deferred - Poll: Three Leading Candidates for PPP Presidential Nomination Biased Speaker

No Confidence Motion Should be Deferred - Poll: Three Leading Candidates for PPP Presidential Nomination Biased Speaker
Photo : Dr. Vishnu Bisram
Poll: Three Leading Candidates for PPP Presidential Nomination
Biased Speaker
By Dr. Vishnu Bisram
Reference is made to Prime Minister (PM) Moses Nagamootoo’s press statement rebuffing the Opposition Leader’s (OL) request for deferral of the debate on the no confidence motion till the New Year.
 
The OL wisely sought a delay of the debate so that peoples’ minds could be focused on the holiday season rather than on the debate on the performance of the government. Having a no confidence debate on the eve of Christmas or end of the year is inappropriate. It is a Grinch that will steal the peoples’ Christmas. It is unheard of to have a no confidence motion debate so late in the year. It is not ideal to have this very stressful debate at the holiday period. It just adds to the stress of the period. Everyone will be on the edge focusing on the outcome rather than completing their plan for the season. In fact, the debate will ruin peoples’ holiday celebrations. So the debate upsets the holiday plan, and it should be deferred.
 
I think the government (PM) should reconsider the request of the opposition leader and put off the debate till mid-January.  People are busy preparing for the holidays. Members of Parliament themselves and their families must also be preparing for end of year festivities and for travel abroad. In January, everyone will be back to their normal routine and in a frame of mind to listen to the debate.
 
I do not think the opposition has the numbers (33) to make the motion successful. So the government need not worry that it would lose the vote if it is delayed till mid-January.
 
However, it would be unwise for OL to withdraw the motion as suggested by the PM. A debate is needed on the performance of the government to hold it accountable and to suggest reorientation on policymaking. Besides, a no confidence motion is routine when a government loses a local election by a huge margin as happened on November 12 in Guyana.
 
The debate on the no confidence motion should have occurred right after it was introduced in the house rather than being delayed till now. That is the norm in the Westminster system. .No confidence motion takes precedence over other matters. In England last week, Members of Parliament from the ruling Conservative Party called for a no confidence vote against their Prime Minister. It was held immediately as no confidence motions supersedes all other matters. The British PM won the no confidence vote last week. If the government was /is so confident of defeating the motion, then it should have held the debate before the budget.
 
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo chided Jagdeo for wanting to exclude him (Nagamootoo) from the budget debate because of language in the constitution barring the PM from sitting in the House while acting as President. The fraudulent Burnham constitution is very specific in articles 96, 103, and 178 in who can act as President and what happens thereafter. The latter states that the acting president must temporarily vacate his or her seat in the assembly with someone replacing him or her until such time that the acting president ceases the duties. It does not make sense to exclude the PM acting as President from sitting in the House; he has so much to offer. I am of the view that the constitution should be amended to allow the Acting President to sit in the Assembly especially that he or she can contribute to a healthy debate. Excluding the Acting President from sitting in the House does not lessen the voting numbers of the government in the House. The person acting as President can appoint a temporary MP to fill his or her slot. The no confidence debate should be deferred.
 
Poll: Three Leading Candidates for PPP Presidential Nomination
 
An opinion poll conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) finds former Ministers Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, and Frank Anthony as the leading contenders for 2020 Presidential nominee of the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP). Supporters of the PPP are divided on who should be the Presidential candidate of their party. But they are unanimous in their belief that if the 2020 general elections are free and fair, PPP will emerge victorious with a majority of seats in parliament. The so called swing voters, among the professional and business classes, including those who crossed over from PPP to AFC in 2011 and 2015, say they are looking for “a moderate pro-business candidate”. They are of the view that if the PPP selects “a moderate, pro-Western candidate”, the PPP will sweep the elections. They say they want to change the government that they feel has been hurting their business and quality of life.
 
The poll was conducted a week ago in which voters were interviewed at random to reflect the demographics of the population. The survey was organized by this writer who has been conducting opinion surveys in Guyana over the last thirty years.
 
Asked who should be the PPP Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, and Frank Anthony resonated as the main contenders among voters as well as among the members of the Central Committee (CC). Some of the long shot names mentioned by voters included Dr. Vindya Persaud, Shyam Nokta, Charles Ramson (Jr), and Gail Texeira, but they lack resonance in the CC. None of the prospective nominees has majority support on the ground among the PPP base. But one candidate appears to have a majority (or close to it) among the party’s Central Committee of 35 members who will choose the nominee. And supporters of both parties (and the coalition APNU+AFC) feel if former President Bharrat Jagdeo could run again, he would most certainly gain the PPP nomination unopposed and carry the party to a landslide victory. Jagdeo remains the most popular political figure in the country. Voters would like Jagdeo to guide the Presidential nomination selection process, endorse the PPP candidate, and mentor him or her.
 
Separately, respondents in the poll expressed no surprise at the outcome of last November local government elections (LGE) in which the PPP won a landslide against APNU and AFC. Asked if they are surprised at the LGE outcome, 78% said no, 6% said yes, with the others not offering a comment. Voters have been disappointed with the governance of the coalition.
The survey also finds the nation overwhelmingly rejecting the controversial position of PNC Chair Volda Lawrence that “only PNC supporters should be hired by the government. Volda’s position on government hiring of only PNC supporters is endorsed by a mere 4%. The Health Minister has backtracked on her controversial position.
 
A majority of the nation feels that SOCU, at the direction of the government, has been unfairly targeting opposition politicians for criminal investigations and charges.  Asked if they think government is using SOCU to target leading PPP political figures, 60% said yes, 28% said no, and 12% no opinion.
Guyana’s Assembly Speaker Biased
Meanwhile, people feel Mr. Barton Scotland, Speaker of the House, is viewed by a large majority of Guyanese as very biased and partisan in his rulings on critical issues (points) before the parliament. Many are of the view that Mr. Scotland is the worst Speaker of the National Assembly in the country’s history. Also, the majority of the nation lacks confidence in the Speaker and feels he should resign or be replaced. They say Speaker Scotland lacks objectivity and neutrality as is required of the position. They say he should not take a pro-government position even though he is appointed by the government. Several prominent lawyers feel the Speaker erred in several of his rulings.
 
Asked if they think the Speaker is biased (against the opposition) in his rulings, 56% said yes with 28% saying no and the others (16%) not offering a response or saying not sure. Similar numbers feel the Speaker should relinquish the position or be replaced since he has been very partisan in favor of the government.