The President of Guyana finds himself between a rock and a hard place. He is now being increasingly isolated domestically because of his failure to call general and regional elections as required in light of the passage of a no confidence motion in his government.
At the same time he is faced with a divided GECOM which is unable to agree on a date for elections.
It is the President who has to call elections. He can call elections at any time, no confidence motion of not. He can call snap elections anytime. GECOM is the one who has to be ready. If it is not ready then it has to make itself ready. And that is something which any President has to take into consideration.
As it stands, GECOM has been given an ultimatum by the President even though, as he says, he cannot direct the body. He has indicated to GECOM that he desires elections in the shortest possible time. It is for GECOM to deliver on that ultimatum.
But as is expected, GECOM will not deliver because it is divided on whether there should be house-to- house registration or whether the existing list can be sanitized and used for the elections.
Yesterday, a grouping of civil society organizations issued a statement on the situation which now faces the nation. The point was emphasized that while house to house registration may be desirable for credible elections, it is not essential.
But do not tell that to the government-nominated Commissioners. They are holding firm to the view that there must be house to house registration after April 30.
GECOM will most likely vote, when it does, for house-to house registration. It will end up doing so because the delicate balance which existed under the old system of appointing the Commission was uprooted when President Granger made a unilateral appointment of a Chairman of GECOM.
Constitutional rule has come under threat since the APNU+AFC came into office. It is unbecoming for any person within the government to be taking the position that they will act in accordance with their interpretation of the Constitution, notwithstanding an interpretation which has been made by the Court.
A confidence motion is provided for by the Constitution and is well established as a constitutional convention within the Commonwealth. It was theref0re unpardonable for the government to have been challenged the constitutional validity of the no confidence motion on specious grounds on specious grounds.
It was equally appalling to read that one Government official has said that the constitution was wrong, in that the framers made a mistake when they sought to place the burden of calling elections on the President.
The APNU+AFC is sending the wrong signals about its willingness to adhere to the Constitution. While all of this happening, the government’s clock is ticking on the deadline for the government to remain in office outside of an extension granted by the National Assembly.
The government hardly seems bothered. Its spit press continues to misrepresent past events in a desperate attempt to convince its supporters that there are justifiable grounds to support its actions or inactions.
In the meantime, the Opposition has resigned itself for the long haul. It has told its supporters to be patient. Unlike other countries where the unwillingness of a government to comply with the Constitution would have led to mass protests, the Opposition is promising only picketing exercises against government Ministers.
The opposition lacks muscle. More importantly it lacks the leadership which builds broad-based alliances on issues of national importance. It is unable to forge a coalition in defense of democracy and constitutional rule.
And so the government will do as it pleases. The government is hoping for a miracle. It has had almost three months to try to undo its growing lack of popular appeal following the mauling it took in the local government elections.
Its prevarication and legal shenanigans in calling elections has been matched by its inability to swing public opinion in its favour. Instead of public sympathy, it now stands isolated before the country and the world.
The writing is on the wall for the APNU+AFC. It matters not when it decides to hold elections; it cannot and will not retain office, through fair and free means.
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