Unchartered territory: Illegal Govt

first_imgIt would appear that at long last, there is a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel of darkness created by the refusal of the PNC-led coalition government to obey instructions of our Constitution that were so pellucid, the CCJ declared it needed “no gloss” or explanation. This was Art 106 (6), (7) declaring that with the passage of a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) in the National Assembly, the “President and Cabinet shall resign” and that “the Government shall hold an election within three months”.In his desperate rear-guard battle to stave off those elections, President Granger resorted to a variety of cynical stratagems, the last of which has finally run out. Even though Art 61 gives him the sole authority to “proclaim” a date for elections, Granger insidiously foisted that responsibility onto GECOM, which is merely responsible, via Art 162 (1) for “registration of electors or conduct of elections”. GECOM is funded annually so that it should be in a state of perpetual readiness to conduct elections three months after the President has dissolved the National Assembly and declared a date for elections. This is the tradition of the “snap” elections that is part and parcel of parliamentary democracy. According to Art 162 (2), the only time GECOM can become involved with the date of an election is if “on the day appointed therefore would be attended, either generally or in a particular area, by danger or serious hardship”.But Granger placed the cart before the horse and insisted that GECOM must “declare its readiness for a credible elections” before he would announce a date. This was a most transparent ploy since he had already connived with his illegally, and unilaterally appointed first Chairman to order a time-consuming H2H Registration as part of the “readiness” regimen. In all of this foot-dragging, the Opposition PPP showed superhuman restraint as one red herring after another – such as “merging of lists” – were dragged along the path to elections. But finally, the new GECOM Chair, who has the casting vote, announced on September 19 that GECOM would be ready to conduct elections by “end February 2020”.Granger, however, had overplayed his hand. In his resort to the Courts as part of his rear-guard battle, the CCJ had determined on June 18 that the clock on the three-month timetable for elections which was on “pause” has started to run on that date. Consequently, elections should have been scheduled by September 18, 2019 or the Government thereafter becomes illegal, being violative of the Constitution. In fact, this point was so obvious that the western diplomats of the US, UK and EU – the three most important allies of Guyana – eschewed the usual diplomatese and issued a most pointed statement on the PNC-government’s illegality:“…we deeply regret that, by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders.This situation comes at great cost to the people of Guyana.  The prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and delays development across all areas including infrastructure, education, health, and social services.  It also hinders our ability to support Guyana’s development needs.We therefore call upon the President to set an elections date immediately in full compliance with Guyana’s Constitution”.Guyana is now in unchartered waters constitutionally dealing with a de facto but not de jure Head of State. The Opposition PPP has continued to show tremendous restraint and political maturity to accept the attenuated elections date suggested by the parameter set by the GECOM Chair. As was once said in an analogous context, Granger can run but he can no longer hide. He must set a date for elections immediately and face the democratic verdict of the Guyanese people.Until then, he should be guided at a minimum by the “Caretaker Conventions” extant in other parliamentary democracies for “lame duck” administrations.last_img read more