The president of Guyana has suspended the national parliament to avoid MPs passing a vote of no confidence in his government.
Donald Ramotar invoked an obscure constitutional procedure to carry out the manoeuvre.
He said in a statement he was disbanding the legislature with the hope that it might eventually "benefit our people".
But his opponents accused the president of undermining democracy.
Mr Ramotar executed his decision as MPs returned for their first day of work after a two-month recess.
Under a constitutional tool known as "proroguing", he said he would be able to suspend parliament for a maximum of six months.
The measure would allow the president's administration to work with an opposition-controlled parliament without calling early elections, according to the Associated Press news agency.
"Fellow Guyanese," the president said in a statement, "my decision to exercise this constitutional option was not taken lightly, but it was the sole recourse that was left to me to ensure that the life of the 10th Parliament was preserved."
However opposition politician, Moses Nagamootoo - whose party filed the September no confidence vote - accused the administration of being "a recalcitrant and renegade government".