San Juan, Nov 11 (IANS/EFE) Guyana's President of Indian origin Donald Ramotar announced the suspension of parliament for up to six months, saying that he wanted to avoid sterile debate with the opposition ahead of the January 2015 general elections.
He defended the decision in an address to the nation on Monday.
"Some may ask why is it that my government has gone this constitutional route and not go along with the debate. The answer lies in the practical choice between an atmosphere of confrontation, as the no-confidence motion debate would fuel, or that of possible accommodation, as a prorogued Parliament can facilitate, if there is a genuine intent on all sides," Ramotar said.
The Government Information Agency quoted Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Robert Persaud as saying that the president was pressing the "reset button" in an effort to resolve a number of critical issues.
Persaud reasoned that prorogation of parliament would herald a cooling-off period between the government and the opposition. Article 70 (1) of Guyana's Constitution gives the president the right to prorogue parliament. If Ramotar prorogues parliament for the full six months, the 2015 National Budget cannot be passed.
Several other measures will also be left hanging, including a bill to liberalise the telecommunications sector and the controversial Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Amendment. But opposition leader David Granger has contended that the suspension of parliament would allow the government to go on a spending spree in a bid to woo much-needed votes amid a series of scandals.
While Granger conceded that the president enjoyed a legal right to prorogue or dissolve the parliament, he said Ramotar was cowardly to use the power to avoid a debate on the no-confidence motion. General and regional elections will be held in Guyana in January.
Of Guyana's total populations of nearly 800,000, over 43 percent are people of Indian descent.