GEORGETOWN, Guyana, December 22, 2018 (CMC) – Coalition government back-bencher, Charandaas Persaud, said his conscience had been “stifled for long”, as he defended his decision to vote with the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and topple the three-year-old A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)-Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition government, of President David Granger, late last night.
With just a one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly, Persaud’s vote was crucial, and he told reporters that he had not been offered any money or position, by the opposition, to vote against the coalition government.
“My conscience was stifled for long…they voted for things that should not have happened, period,” Persaud, an AFC member, told reporters.
Media reports quoted Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, as saying that security arrangements will be put in place for Persaud, who was due to travel to Canada, Saturday morning.
The vote by Persaud means that the Guyana government is constitutionally bound to hold fresh general elections, by March, next year.
His colleagues, who were caught by the surprise vote, believe that he had made a mistake in the voting.
But Persaud, an attorney, gave a strong “yes” when the Clerk of the Assembly re-started the process.
He told reporters he voted to clear his conscience and now that his conscience is clear, if he dies, he knows that he would die a happy man.
Persaud said he will be offering his resignation to the Parliament and the AFC, a partner in the coalition government, and that he would not be returning to the House, as a Member of Parliament for the AFC.
He told reporters that he had become tired of voting along party lines, and had become disenchanted with his party, for always voting for issues brought up by its coalition partner.
He said there were a number of issues that forced him to vote against his own party and side with the PPP, a party that he has long criticised as being corrupt and out of touch.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, said that he intends to meet with President Granger on the issue and several other matters.
Under the Constitution, the government has to call elections, within three months, or at a time agreed to by two-thirds of the National Assembly. The president is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment, following a cancer diagnosis. That treatment schedule is expected to continue for five more months.
Meanwhile, Britain’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, on Saturday, called on Guyana to respect the government’s loss of the no-confidence vote.
“Members of Parliament must be allowed to undertake their constitutionally mandated roles in the absence of fear or favour,” he said, urging politicians to campaign on the issues facing the country.
“We urge calm, on all sides, and look forward to a free and fair election and a campaign fought on the issues that confront Guyana and its future development,” he said, adding that he was hoping that any protests that followed the vote on Friday night, would be peaceful.
“Maintaining the fundamental tenets of democracy is paramount to us all, and whilst everyone has the right to protest, this must be peaceful,” he said.