The sixty-five-member unicameral National Assembly constitutes Guyana's legislative branch. Fifty-three members are directly elected though a system of proportional representation, ten members are elected by the regional democratic councils (local legislative bodies for each region), and two members come from the Supreme Congress of the People (a special national-level advisory group). The National Assembly has the power to pass bills and constitutional amendments, which are then sent to the executive president for approval.
The National Assembly has six months to override the presidential veto of a bill. Following an override, the executive president has the authority to dissolve the assembly within twentyone days and call for new elections. President Burnham used this authority to stifle parliamentary opposition during his administration.
The 1980 constitution provides for the executive president to appoint the minority leader, formerly known as the leader of the opposition. The minority leader must be the elected member of the National Assembly, who, in the president's judgment, is best able to lead the opposition members of the National Assembly. Naming his own chief opponent was yet another tool President Burnham used to control the government apparatus.
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