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President of Guyana Disbands Parliament

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The president of Guyana has used a little-known constitutional tool to suspend the South American nation’s parliament and avoid a vote of no confidence.

President Donald Ramotar, who has held the post since December 2011, said in a statement that he was compelled to suspend the legislature to protect the nation’s economic progress.

“My appeals to return to normalcy, to constructively address the many important issues confronting us in Guyana, appear to have fallen on deaf ears,” he said, adding that he would “put the nation’s business first rather than political gamesmanship.”

“The opposition in parliament intends to end the life of the 10th parliament with immediate effect, dashing all hopes for urgent attention to issues relating to economic growth, social services and yes, the holding of local government elections,” he said.

Yet members of the opposition, who have a one-seat majority in parliament, accused the government of rubbishing the democratic system. Moses Nagamootoo, a politician in the opposition Alliance For Change party, told the BBC that Ramotar’s administration had become “a recalcitrant and renegade government.”

The procedural tool, called “proroguing,” allows Ramotar to disband the legislature for up to six months, though he said in his statement that he hopes to reach an agreement with the opposition to reconvene parliament sooner.

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Write to Elizabeth Barber at elizabeth.barber@timeasia.com