President David Granger Saturday said arrangements are being made for discussions with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo after he successfully tabled a motion of no confidence in the coalition government on Friday.
“Mr. Jagdeo contacted the Minister of State and a meeting will be arranged as early as possible so that his concerns can be addressed,” President Granger said in a statement, adding also that his A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government would “do everything necessary to facilitate the smooth functioning of General and Regional Elections bearing in mind the need for normal governmental functions to continue uninterrupted.”
Government backbencher Charandass Persaud voted with the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) legislators to win the no-confidence motion in the 65-seat National Assembly after several hours of debate.
The APNU had won the 2015 general election by a slender one-seat majority and despite repeated urges by fellow parliamentarians to change his vote, Persaud declined.
He later 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 told reporters.
Media reports quoted Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, as saying that security arrangements had been put in place for Persaud, who is reported to have left the country on Saturday.
Granger said he is anxious to meet with Jagdeo, a former head of state, on any concerns he may have and has sought to assure the Guyanese population “that this is not a crisis which could dissolve into any type of confrontation.
“This is a constitutional process which can have favourable outcomes for the nation… There is no cause for alarm and there are no grounds for any form of disorder and we will continue to work to provide a good government and deliver public services to the people and to work even more closely with the opposition,” Granger said in his statement.
Article 106 (7) of the Constitution of Guyana states, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the elections.”
President Granger confirmed that he held talks on Saturday with some ministers and will be also meeting with members of the Alliance for Change (AFC), the minority member of the coalition and the party to which Persaud belonged.
Granger is undergoing cancer treatment and has scaled back on his public appearances, but has been working from his home office.
Meanwhile, the ExxonMobil oil company Saturday said it has paused part of its latest oil exploration activities offshore Guyana in the Stabroek Block following reports of an alleged incursion by the Venezuelan military in Guyana waters.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge in a statement said the Government is currently “seeking to confirm exactly what has happened” and that a more detailed statement on the issue will be provided by the government once all the facts are gathered.
But in a statement, the US-oil giant said “at this time, seismic operations on the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana have been paused until they can be safely continued. Our main concern is for the safety of crew members and others in the area. ExxonMobil is in communication with the necessary authorities”.
ExxonMobil has already discovered the equivalent of over five billion barrels of oil offshore Guyana and the company recently announced continuous drilling work in the Stabroek block area, offshore Guyana.
In October 2013, the Venezuelan Navy had intercepted a Malaysia-owned seismic vessel, Teknik Perdana, that had been gathering seismic data for the Texas-headquartered Anadarko Petroleum.