The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)’s rulings on the no confidence vote and appointment of GECOM Chairman necessitate urgent meeting between the nation’s two principal political leaders. Those rulings, which were handed down on Tuesday 18th June, and the nation made aware in real time, should have already seen engagement between President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, and arrival at a common position to take before the Court tomorrow.
Tomorrow the litigants are expected to make their submissions before the judges who will issue Consequential Orders. It is not unreasonable or unrealistic these submissions should seek to arrive at an arrangement that put the interest of the collective first. Neither is it too much for us as citizens to ask, in this period of uncharted waters and tension, our leaders to put forward a united position.
Some things are important enough to put nation above self and other partisan interest. This is one such. While both the President and Opposition Leader have signalled, via the media, their intent to write and seek engagement with the other on the issues, as at Friday which is the end of the work week, the nation is yet to know if this has happened.
The future of this nation is of importance to all. The longer these principals take to meet and send a message of political consensus, the more they will continue to aid the vacuum being filled by whoever wants to occupy it, including the extremists on both sides.
People will consolidate themselves into camps and the harder it will be to get through the din and allow reason to prevail. Every society, including ours, has its extremists, even under normal circumstances, cutting across class and interest. In unusual circumstances like this, they swarm like bees around a honeycomb. We know distorting history, playing to fears, and misrepresenting the role of institutions in society, are not solely the purview of the lesser educated or less positioned in society.
The CCJ’s rulings have created a bruise, though not unexpected. The rulings have opened the floodgates to claims of vindication, the casting of aspersions, charges of being cheated, speaking out of turn, and making untenable demands. The leadership void is felt even more so here – i.e. a common position would have soothed, given assurance, and offered hope for the future of all.
Whereas over the years this nation has had its share of electoral challenges, giving the impression only one group/party is culpable, and therefore we should be forewarned, is not only untrue, but also aids the creating of unnecessary tension. As citizens, ours is the duty to work towards and ensure the electoral system functions in a manner that will deny no eligible person the right to register, his/her name appearing on the List, in the district registered, he/she be allowed to vote in an environment free from fear, the vote counted, duly recorded and declared for the party/group/candidate of choice.
Our history has shown we are evolving. No group or party can make claim to conducting elections where all the stated standards have been met for the voter. None. Where in our society political association tips in large part to racial identity there is need to be careful what is the message intended to be transmitted.
An egregious conduct is an egregious conduct. In an election where it alters the outcome, i.e. the will of the people, be it by one vote, one seat or more, happened during the stewardship of this or that party/group, there could be no claim to superiority or purity.
Running around the place questioning whether Guyana’s sovereignty remains intact, having subjected ourselves to the rulings of a body we voluntary co-founded, helped write the rules and participate in, is not the best pursuit to arriving at workable solutions. These times call for clear thinking, deliberative decision-making and cogent actions.
The void created by the absence of a joint position will see the continuous misleading of the public, and not enough truthful information to help Guyanese understand the implications of the rulings. Both leaders needed to have given themselves adequate time to meet, discuss, and trash out a way forward consistent with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana governing the electoral process, day-to-day governance in the interim, and a common position on GECOM Chairman.
Even at this juncture, instead of coming together, all the society in the main is witnessing is grandstanding. Ours can be likened to a home where the parents have vacated mentally, the children left unsupervised, and disorder reigns. An address to the nation or press conference is not sufficient. Its insufficiency cannot be more pronounced when the first people the need is felt to directly engage are the external forces, rather than each other and the social partners. Priorities are being mixed up.
Why is this nation still subjected to feel that the primary obligation is to foreign forces rather than locals? Whereas the diplomatic community is working in the interest of their principals and would grant the courtesy of an engagement or seek one in furtherance of their national interest, the first priority remains to the citizens, our national interest.
This nation must heal. Everyday Messrs. Granger and Jagdeo fail to meet and make known a common position, they are failing the working class in putting Guyana first. It is important to be labour the point, in 1926 when the trade union movement began the fight for one-man-one-vote (universal suffrage) and internal self-government, a principal aim behind our struggle, and remains so, is the right to self-determination, to chart our destiny.
It is to Guyanese best interest to do so in an environment of peace and stability, which can only come from civility, pursuing and respecting legal justice, i.e. the rule of law, its spirit and intent.
Workers demand a meeting of the two leaders with genuine efforts being put in arriving at a consensus position to take before the CCJ tomorrow, Monday 24th June. Even at this hour, it is not too late to make it happen.
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