Political standoff in Guyana after parliament suspended

GuyanaFlagFilePhotoAGEORGETOWN, (AFP) – A political standoff is brewing in Guyana, where President Donald Ramotar has suspended parliament to ward off a no-confidence vote against him — with his opponents calling him a dictator.

Ramotar, who took office in late 2011 in the former British colony bordering Venezuela, moved last week to suspend the 65-seat National Assembly, which the opposition parties control by one vote.

Lawmakers were planning a no-confidence vote that would have forced Ramotar’s Government to resign and early elections to be called within 90 days.

The opposition in the Caribbean country has been at odds with the president over a number of bills passed by lawmakers which they say Ramotar has failed to heed.

Critics also say that the government has been spending money for years without parliamentary approval, and without detailing how the money was spent.

On Tuesday, opposition leader David Granger led about 100 people in picketing Ramotar’s office, hoping to pressure him into lifting the suspension.

“It’s a campaign of resistance in order to get the result that we desire and that is the reconvening of parliament,” Granger told reporters during the protest, which took place as Ramotar was meeting his cabinet.

Granger has said he will not meet Ramotar until parliament is reconvened. The former commander of the Guyana Defense Force has called on the army and police not to break up legal and peaceful protests.

Elections are not due until 2016.

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