Ramotar told a news conference that his continued monitoring of the situation in Parliament clearly shows that, “APNU and the AFC (Alliance for Change) are squandering the opportunity of working together with us in the interest of our nation. They are violating all parliamentary norms and practices.”
He said since the Parliament began its new term following the general election last November that led to the opposition parties having a controlling majority in the 65-member chamber, there have been wilful efforts to create a hostile atmosphere characterised by uncooperative and disruptive strategies by the opposition.
He warned against reversing the democratic gains made since 1992 when the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) came to power.
“The parliament will be characterised, I believe as a dictatorship of one by the APNU and the AFC; neither one having won individually, a majority of votes over the lawful PPP/C Government which has the largest bloc of votes,” he said.
Ramotar accused the opposition parties of ignoring the principle of proportionality, telling reporters that continued attempts to sow confusion was reflected in APNU’s rejection of the suggestion for a forensic audit of the November 28, 2011 general elections results.
He described that act by the opposition parties as a travesty, making reference also to the manner in which they acted together to elect the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
“Despite efforts on my part on meeting individually, with the APNU and AFC and collectively at the inter-parliamentary dialogue, to reach consensus, the APNU and AFC plunged ahead to elect an AFC Speaker and APNU Deputy, thus breaking completely with traditions of Parliament. ”
He said the second instance came with the election of the Committee of Selection.
“Again we had discussed this at our meetings. The government raised the issue of the size and composition of members of the Parliamentary Committees and, to uphold the constitutional provisions with regard to proportionality of the electoral strength of the parties at the elections. Both APNU and AFC totally ignored this and proceeded to take a majority on the committee of selection,” President Ramotar said.
The government’s proposal was five for the PPP/C, four for APNU and one for AFC, an allocation which would more accurately reflect proportionality of each party’s strength at the polls.
“The APNU and AFC formula of equal seats for the government and APNU and one for the AFC, makes a mockery of the principle of proportionality,” Ramotar said, adding “even when we had an absolute majority, it was we who set up the Parliamentary Management Committee and, we had allowed five seats to the opposition and Government had five, with the Speaker chairing this Committee.
“But here again we see the tendencies of the opposition … at the first meeting of the Committee of Selection to implement their formula for all committees and to bring Motions to amend those Committees where it clearly states that the Government has the majority… they have moved to change that in the rules.”
The PPP/C has been allocated 32 seats, APNU 26 and the AFC 7, which is based on and proportionate to the number of votes that they received at the elections.
A government statement noted that a mathematical calculation on the percentage of seats in the National Assembly would show that the PPP with its 32 seats controls 49.2 per cent of the seats in parliament, allowing it five seats equivalent with the APNU 4 and AFC 1.
But it said the opposition is using nine and the following allocation: PPP-4, APNU-4 and AFC 1.
President Ramotar said that his government’s approach to the High Court on these violations of the Constitution is a significant step to protect the sanctity of the constitution and stop the blatant and reckless disregard for parliamentary democracy.