Much have been said about our protest in the National Assembly during the address of the President on Thursday, November 2. It was our intention to make a bold statement to demonstrate our collective outrage at the callous way in which the Head of State and his government violate the rule of law, assault important democratic institutions, and breach the Constitution in the most egregious fashion.
Article 226(1) of the Constitution states: “In the exercise of its functions under the Constitution, a Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority”.
In May 2015, the then Junior Social Protection Minister, Simona Broomes, instructed the Secretary of the Public Service Commission, that “all interviews and meetings of the Commission are to cease forthwith until further, as instructed by His Excellency, the President, David Arthur Granger’s notice”.
This was challenged in the High Court, and Justice Chang ruled that the Public Service Commission, a Commission established by the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, in the exercise of its functions shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
The Chief Justice called it a violation of Article 226 of the Constitution of the Cooperative of Guyana, and ruled that it is unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.
In a public statement released to the press on October 8, 2016, trade unionist Carvil Duncan said that he was asked by President David Granger in February of that year, to resign as Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and from other constitutional commissions.
Duncan related that he was invited to meet with the President and the Minister of State, the Hon Joseph Harmon. He was asked to submit his resignation. Harmon, he said, offered him a suitable financial package for his exit. And during the course of the meeting, Duncan reported that the President said “no less than three times”, that he does not want any blood on his carpet.
Having rejected their offer, the Government embarked upon a manifestly unlawful course of action. While certain criminal charges were pending in the Magistrate’s Court against Duncan, the Government decided to trigger a constitutional process to remove him from office.
Without a hearing, President Granger set up a ‘kangaroo tribunal’ to remove the embattled trade unionist as chairman of the Public Service Commission. But by virtue of being chairman of the PSC, Carvil Duncan was ex-officio, a member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Police Service Commission, institutions created by the Constitution and endowed with the fundamental role and function of guarding against executive abuses.
As Chairman of the PSC, Carvil Duncan enjoyed all these constitutional protections.
And in June 2016, the President again deliberately violated the Constitution when he instructed Minister of State, Joe Harmon to issue a directive to the Police Service Commission (PSC) in his name, instructing the PSC to halt the police promotions process.
It is obvious that this President demonstrates absolute disrespect and disregard for the letter and spirit of the Constitution. He continues to contravene its provisions with impunity. This vulgar and authoritarian attempt by the President to trample upon the independence and functional autonomy of the Police Service Commission, a constitutional agency, was again challenged in the High Court.
The editorial in the Stabroek News on August 21, expressed grave concern for the country, as “a pattern of highly worrying behaviour has emerged. It is clear that when it suits the President and the government to ignore constitutional precepts – in this case, the vital insulating of service commissions – it is prepared to do so. Two and a half years into its term of office, this tendency is rife.
I have the greatest of respect for the Office of the President, but this President will get none from me. David Granger is no angel, he is a budding dictator. He does not deserve our respect.
PPP/C Member of Parliament
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