It would appear that the politics of manipulative misinformation and alternative facts have become entrenched in the mass and social media in Guyana within recent times with its insistent, and unsupported, claims of corruption, incompetence and the erosion of democratic government by the Granger-led administration. There seems to be two issues, in particular, which have generated the greatest concern and misrepresentations. These are the appointment of Justice James Patterson as GECOM Chairman and the developments surrounding the recent no confidence mention.
Opponents of the appointment of Justice Patterson argue that his appointment was unilateral suggesting that it was deceitful, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional. The simple facts are that the constitution (Article 161.2) tasks the Leader of the Opposition with the responsibility to nominate qualified, fit and proper, persons not unacceptable to the President and it gives the President the sole authority and responsibility, to appoint the GECOM Chairman. Chairmen of GECOM have always been unilaterally appointed by the President, of whichever party, as mandated by the constitution and this most recent appointment is not corrupt, unconstitutional or a prelude to rigging of elections as suggested by some.
With regards to the NCM, the misinformed arguments of its proponents are as follows:
Charandas Persaud’s actions were democratic and patriotic.
The refusal of the President and his Cabinet to resign immediately following the no confidence vote was in effect a coup d’état and a descent into autocratic government.
The decision to appeal the Chief Justice’s ruling that the NCV was validly passed was an usurpation of democracy and the decision of the Appeal Court to overturn it was “prejudiced”.
The fact is that Charandas Persaud sat in the National Assembly as a representative of the APNU/AFC list and cast his vote for the PPP/C – sponsored no confidence motion against the party he elected to represent. This conduct is neither democratic or patriotic, except in some alternative universe, but evidently treacherous and anti-democratic. His vote was intended to bring down a duly elected government outside of the ballot box and to deny representation to the thousands of Guyanese (20,824) who voted for the APNU/AFC in the last election.
Secondly, the constitution provides for the removal of the President on grounds of physical and mental incapacity and for violation of the constitution or any gross misconduct, none of which was alleged in the no confidence motion, and establishes processes for so determining. It also provides for a vacancy in the Office of the Presidency due to resignation or death in which case the office shall be assumed by the Prime Minister, as was the case with the deaths of former Presidents Burnham and Jagan. The constitution also provides for the seamless transfer of power from one administration to another by requiring that the President continue in office until the new president is sworn in following general elections. Were the President and Cabinet to resign following the no confidence vote as Article 106 (6) seem to demand then Guyana would have been forced to endure a period without a Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, executive and legislative bodies and without the possibility of early elections to supposedly resolve this matter. It would have been the most serious dereliction of duty and the President deserves the nation’s appreciation and gratitude for his dedication to duty and service to our country to remain at his post and to request that the courts clarify this difficult situation.
It is not clear how elections could have been held had the President and his Cabinet resigned immediately as there is no authority, other than the President, that has the ability to dissolve the National Assembly and proclaim a date for elections. Neither the Guyana Elections Commission, the Opposition Leader or the courts can issue such a proclamation.
Finally, it must be made clear that the President had a duty not to create a void in the state and government and to forestall anarchy by inviting the judiciary to adjudicate in this matter and the decision of any court must not be disrespected when it does not support our interests.
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