PM is an elected member, does not lose seat while acting as President

─ Opposition writes Speaker of the House stating it is “unconstitutional” for PM Nagamootoo to be in National Assembly

─ Opposition trying to sow seeds of discord in National Assembly – PM Nagamootoo

─ the Prime Minister is an elected member of the House and cannot be un-elected

─ Former Speaker, Ramkarran backs Prime Minister

DPI, Guyana, Monday, December 10, 2018

There was a delay in the Sitting of the National Assembly earlier today, after Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira dispatched a letter to Speaker of the House, Dr. Barton Scotland citing the Opposition’s stance that the Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, being in the House is “unconstitutional.”

Dr. Scotland is expected to make his ruling later in the week. However, Prime Minister Nagamootoo, in a recent article, said the Opposition is seeking to sow seeds of discord in an attempt to stymie the passage of the Coalition Administration’s $300.7B National Budget presented on November 26.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

PM Nagamootoo stated he is an elected member of the National Assembly, as such he cannot be un-elected. He noted too that the President, whether in or out of the jurisdiction, can authorise the Prime Minister to carry any function.

This does not prevent him from performing his other functions, one of which is the leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly and Senior Counsel, Ralph Ramkarran has also thrown his support behind the Prime Minister.

The former Speaker is quoted in the Guyana Chronicle today as stating “The article in the constitution requires a minister, if appointed, to vacate his seat. It does not require the prime minister, if similarly appointed, to do so.”

This is not the first time the Opposition has raised this argument and many legal luminaries have added their voices to the discourse quashing the Opposition’s contention.

In 2015, Kamal Ramkarran, who is now the President of the Guyana Bar Association, in a letter-to-the-editor titled, “When the President leaves Guyana he does not mysteriously morph into something else,” noted clearly that whether the President is in the country or not, he still remains the Head of State.

Ramkarran advanced the argument that any person, performing any function of the president, which is required to be performed in Guyana, does it on the President’s behalf and not of his/her own accord.

The Bar Association President had also reasoned that Article 51 of the Constitution which is being used by the Opposition to add credence to the argument, does not form a basis for that contention.

The Opposition has been pushing this argument strongly, in the wake of President David Granger’s illness, a move PM Nagamootoo has condemned as “unpatriotic” by the Opposition.

Stacy Carmichael.

Image: Department of Public Information.

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