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|Motion to remove Gov’t Minister is impotent and misconceived – AG -following conclusion of no confidence motion debate|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:00|
ATTORNEY General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, in a comment subsequent to the conclusion of the debate on the no confidence motion against Minister Clement Rohee in the National Assembly Monday evening, reiterated that the motion is incapable in law or under the constitution, of removing a Minister from Office.
Minister Rohee was appointed by the President as Home Affairs Minister and is also an elected geographic representative of the Parliament.
“Those who have embarked on this course as a mechanism to remove the minister from office have simply embarked on a wrong and misconceived course of action…having committed ourselves to a Commission of Inquiry and having participated in the actual crafting of the Terms of Reference (TORs) to specifically deal with any role or responsibility, if any, which can be ascribed to the minister in relation to the Linden incident, I would prefer to say that we should leave the entire issue of who is responsible and who is not, to the remit of the Commission,” he said.
Thus far, the draft TORs that were crafted by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, and APNU member, Joseph Harmon, are very wide and all-inclusive and deal with the role of the police and political organisations, issue of damage to property, the situation that was facing the police immediately prior to the shooting, and causes of death of the three persons.
“The process that is embarked upon to remove a minister of government is one that is impotent and misconceived and cannot yield this result. Either Minister Rohee resigns voluntarily, the president requests him to resign, or he is removed at an election,” the AG maintained.
With regard to the AFC’s constant harping on ministerial responsibilities, Minister Nandlall explained that a minister is responsible for a sector; in this case Minister Rohee holds ministerial responsibility for the police force.
However, this cannot and does not mean that the minister is responsible in terms of attracting culpability in respect of the police’s conduct at Linden on that day; that distinction was lost on the AFC, in particular, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan.
“One would expect that as a lawyer, at a minimum, he would appreciate this vital distinction. Further, that he would appreciate that in no civilized system liability would be ascribed and sanction imposed without an investigation and without evidence, especially in the context where Minister Rohee continues to assert his innocence and non involvement in the incident under question. The National Assembly simply cannot perform the functions of investigation or evidence taking,” he stated.
The Opposition spoke to conventions in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, stating that the Parliament is governed by such conventions in the absence of a written constitution.
“In Guyana, we have what is called a constitutional democracy; we are governed by a written constitution that speaks directly as to how a minister will be removed from office. Therefore, we cannot rely on British conventions in the context of jurisdiction that has no constitution in writing and we cannot transpose that convention and apply it here; when we have a constitution that speaks specifically to the removal of a minister,” the AG underscored.
“In any event, a motion is simply an expression of the House’s opinion on a given issue. It has no binding effect on the government and all the authorities on parliamentary practice and procedures confirm this. Once again, we have witnessed an abuse of parliamentary process and a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Minister Nandall stated.
Government had proposed several amendments to the motion, which, according to Government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, offered all sides of the House an opportunity to work together to reach an agreement on how best to address the situation.
However, that opportunity was ignored by the Opposition, who voted against it.
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