Op-ed: Min. Gaskin weighs in on constitutionality of govt in Parliament

I note the claims being made by the political opposition that the sitting of Parliament subsequent to the vote on the no-confidence motion is unconstitutional and I am both amazed and disturbed at this interpretation of what should follow a no-confidence motion.

For an action to be deemed unconstitutional it must be specifically disallowed by the Constitution or be shown to violate the spirit or intent of one or more constitutional provisions.

“Sovereignty belongs to the people” is one of the underlying principles of our political system and is enshrined in our Constitution which, in Chapter II, Article 9 states that: “Sovereignty belongs to the people who exercise it through their representatives and the democratic organs established by or under this Constitution”.

It, therefore, follows that this principle must at all times be satisfied when attempting to interpret the intent and meaning of the Constitution on matters related to the political system.

It is in the National Assembly that the people of Guyana are represented by political parties in accordance with the results of the most recent national election. In other words, the National Assembly is one of the democratic organs through which the sovereignty of the people is exercised.

Our Constitution prescribes how and when each session of Parliament should begin and end, and there are only two means by which a session is brought to an end, namely prorogation or dissolution. Either can be done at any time by Presidential proclamation, however, the Parliament is automatically dissolved five years after it first meets following an election.

So, as far as the current situation is concerned, it is the President who must dissolve Parliament. There are a number of important considerations that must precede dissolution and it is foolish and irresponsible for anyone to suggest that Parliament be immediately dissolved after a no-confidence vote.

Following its clandestine stunt on December 21st, the opposition is now in a tremendous haste to derecognize the constitutional authority of the Parliament for fear it may somehow legitimately undo its machinations.

Today’s sitting of Parliament cannot be unconstitutional since it has not been dissolved and its life has not expired, and no unsupported argument by the opposition should be allowed to interfere with the sovereignty of the people and the authority of National Assembly.

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