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…joinder parties deplore PPP/C, Coalition
The three small parties, which teamed up ahead of the 2020 Elections to secure a seat in the National Assembly, are now accusing the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) of excluding their Member of Parliament Lenox Shuman from important Parliamentary Committees.
The PPP/C had ignored convention and used its majority in the House to elect Shuman as deputy speaker instead of the main opposition’s candidate.
In a statement on Saturday, the joinder parties – Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM) – complained that Shuman was not selected to sit on any of the major Select and Sectoral Committees, despite promises of inclusivity by the majority political parties.
“In the recent selection of members of select and sectoral committees of the National Assembly, the two main political parties reneged on their promise of inclusivity when it came down to a most critical and substantive matter, such as constitutional reform, by failing to nominate a member of the joinder to any of the Parliamentary Committees which carry out important work that bring about reform through legislative intervention,” the joinder parties said.
There are eight parliamentary committees – Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform, Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Relations, Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services, Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services, Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Security Sector, Public Accounts Committee, Committee of Appointments, Committee of Selection and the Parliamentary Management Committee – however, Shuman sits on none.
The joinder parties said with only the PPP/C and APNU+AFC represented on the committees, it is likely that there will be more “stand-offs, retarded progress and the same old modus operandi” that have stymied the country’s progress.
“Although the two parties represent 90% of the electorate, unfortunately, the real effect is not that the will of 90% of the electorate will be carried out, but rather, the interest of the two parties who have been notorious for using the state and legislative arms of government to advance their own agenda. Including representation from the smaller parties would have seen greater diversity in views, and undoubtedly, a voice of reason wherever gridlock might arise,” the small parties contended. .
Further, they contended that the standing orders, which govern the selection of these parliamentary committees, perpetuate the two party system by forcing all opposition parties to fall under the “discretion” of the Opposition Leader, thereby putting the third party at a disadvantage.
“This gives the largest opposition party control over whether the third parties will be given a seat on the parliamentary committees, and institutionalises an undemocratic system which leaves a significant portion of the electorate unrepresented in the decision making processes,” they said.
They emphasized that all voters, who have representatives in the National Assembly should fairly be represented at the table, and this should be reflected in the standing orders. As such, they intend to propose amendments to the Standing Orders.
“The recent history of Guyana demonstrates that an interlocutor is or ought to be considered to be a vital component in Guyana’s politics. No one can fail to see that the political gridlock which has prevailed for decades in Guyana will not be resolved unless there is a group that is prepared to hold both institutionalized parties accountable and ensure transparency,” the small parties said.
The added: “In the circumstances, we call on the main political parties in the National Assembly to put aside their harmful and polarizing politics by permitting the only interlocutor in Parliament a voice in these Parliamentary committees in Guyana’s interest.”