Is appearance and form the true or dominant reality or does substance and content really matter? The following questions may also be asked in the context of our recent political experiences:
1) What does my/your vote, in a general election, mean? Does it represent the right and ability to choose your party and government or is it merely symbolic and illusionary and can be taken away on a whim by a Member of Parliament acting out his personal agenda. The courts, at every level, have validated Charrandass Persaud’s contempt for the APNU+AFC constituency and for the position that their vote has any meaning.
2) What is the meaning of the no-confidence motion (NCM) and can this instrument be legally or politically adjudicated and enforced?
It is my understanding that the passage of an NCM almost always signifies that the executive (government) is accountable to the legislature (parliament) and has lost its support and, therefore, its legitimacy and ability to govern.
In our present context, neither is true; the President is elected directly by the people, not by Parliament, and the government’s parliamentary majority remains intact and so, the commentary that the government has fallen by the NCM represents more wishful thinking rather than fact.
Seven months after the vote on the NCM in December 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has determined that the NCM was validly passed in the National Assembly, but recognizes that there are no legal consequences or impositions, only political ones. It could not order the resignation of the President and Cabinet or determine a date for elections. Its opinion that the APNU+AFC administration has been reduced to an interim or caretaker government is more political rather than judicial in nature and trespasses on the prerogatives of the legislature.
Surely, it must now be for the National Assembly to impose its consequential orders on the government and to enforce its NCM, as would be the case in any normally functioning parliamentary democracy and procedurally-correct NCM.
The Opposition Leader began his fight in the National Assembly and he should end it there, and not seek to involve unconstitutional mechanisms, notwithstanding the fact that he has made it abundantly clear that he has no use for the legislature that delivered his NCM victory.
The PPP/C’s political strategy has, so far, been masterful; it has succeeded at every opportunity in determining the arena (National Assembly, the courts, public media, international community) it desires to fight in, and now sees no benefit in returning to the National Assembly.
The National Assembly was constituted as a deliberative body, under the constitution, to debate and formulate policies of national importance, and its continued exclusion from this process is shameful and irresponsible, and must end now. To demand restrictions on government, and sanctions, is premature, contemptuous, undemocratic and hostile.
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