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Bi-partisan talks to extend the life of parliament have collapsed after one exploratory meeting and the government is moving for a simple-majority amendment to the Constitution which will enable elections to be held no later than September 4.

With under a week before the National Assembly is due to be dissolved on May 3, the joint opposition parliamentary parties yesterday announced that government had rejected the measures put forward by its representatives to avert the predicament that will result from the dissolution of the National Assembly before the announcement of a polling date.

"After a single meeting, our representatives were informed of the cabinet's decision to reject all of the proposals they had floated, at what was a preliminary and exploratory meeting," WPA co-leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine told reporters at a joint opposition press conference. Along with Opposition Leader Robert Corbin, and GAP-ROAR spokesman Ravi Dev, he urged that the cabinet reconsider its decision and reopen negotiations to settle outstanding issues.

"Guyana cannot afford to miss another opportunity to close ranks and heal wounds," he said.

The government, through Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, said the talks could not go forward since the issues raised by the opposition were outside of the remit of the nominated representatives.

Following a meeting between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Corbin last week, the two sides set up a team to work out the constitutional arrangements necessary for the extension of the government's term in office. The four-person team was to have done an immediate assessment of the constitutional implications of the inability of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hold elections by the August 4 constitutional deadline. The team was to have also made recommendations on how to best resolve the situation in the national interest. Attorney General Doodnauth Singh, SC, and Speaker of the House Ralph Ramkarran, SC, represented the government on the team, while PNCR Chairman Winston Murray and Rex McKay, SC represented the joint opposition parties.

Stabroek News
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