An interesting conundrum appears in a letter to this column titled, “Has the politics of manipulative misinformation and alternative facts become entrenched in the mass and social media in Guyana?” The arguments appear to have emerged from under the sea, with some good points, but mostly, inaccurate assumptions.
To begin, it is true that Article 161(2) of the Constitution “tasks the Leader of the Opposition with the responsibility to nominate qualified, fit and proper, persons not unacceptable to the President, and further, gives the President the sole authority and responsibility, ‘after meaningful consultation with the non-governmental political parties represented in the National Assembly,’ to appoint the GECOM Chairman.”
Note that I have included, in bold italics, a material portion of the phrase in 70(2) which was omitted by the writer. However, while the decision may have always been unilateral, the fit and proper person was always selected from the list of names supplied by the Opposition.
I would like to mention here that only when the ‘Leader of the Opposition fails to submit a list as provided for, the President shall appoint a person…’ In the current scenario, several lists containing a total of 18 names were submitted. When the President appointed Mr Patterson, wasn’t he in effect saying that not even one of those Guyanese on the Opposition lists was fit and proper?
It must be noted that ‘fit and proper’ has a special meaning which revolves around ‘ethical behaviour/conduct’. The letter writer should take a gulp of fresh air and then consider/assess the 18 names presented by the Opposition Leader.
Further, the suggestion that Charrandass’ conduct is neither democratic nor patriotic ignored the very meanings of such concepts. ‘Democratic’ among other related explanations, is the idea that everyone should have equal rights and involvement in making important decisions, while ‘patriotic’ includes a desire to see one’s country succeed.
These meanings, taken separately, or together, represent what Charrandass voted for on December 21, i.e., the bringing down of what is clearly a failed government. A question arose as to whether he voted against the list or against the government. This question was also posed by the CCJ judges, and we shall soon find out the correct version. Meanwhile, I take the view that he voted against the government, and that the Constitutional clause/provision on anti-defection/voting against the list is in fact a dictatorship/anti-democratic instrument.
Yes, it is true that 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. It is also true that he can be removed pursuant to other provisions in the very Constitution, such as, Arts. 70(1) & (2) and 106(6).
Further, a vote of confidence/no-confidence does not necessarily have to do with those other mentioned grounds of removal; it’s a vote showing the majority continues to support or no longer supports the policies of the President/government.
In a nutshell, the letter writer is guilty of the very act(s) he is condemning. He may have harboured good intentions, but failed to articulate the manipulative misinformation and alternative facts that pervade the media.
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