How could a rugby player tell a cricketer that if the fielder’s foot touches the rope while stopping the ball it is not a four? The cricketer is bound to tell him that he knows the laws of cricket and the rugby man is completely wrong. How can an engineer tell a lawyer that there is no time limitation on filing an appeal? The lawyer is going to tell the engineer that he knows the relevant law, and he is going to read it for the engineer.
What President Granger has done, before he bowed no doubt to pressure and chose Justice Claudette Singh, has severely damaged his credibility. Also, he has telegraphed his thoughts to the world that he will not accept the loss of power. On Thursday, Granger met the diplomatic community and organizations in civil society on the same day at different venues and said the identical things to them.
Two outputs were severely embarrassing. He may have opened himself to the view by persons in both groupings that he is cultivating an intention of preserving power at all cost.
First, he told them that the CCJ ruling gives him the right to submit names to the Opposition Leader to be considered for the GECOM chairman.
It is foolish to utter such a statement when educated persons in both groupings can read the words of the President of the CCJ and the relevant article in the constitution. If that was done, Granger would have been exposed, thus the volte face to pick Justice Singh.
One cannot find one word in the constitution and in the emanation of the President of the CCJ that gives Granger a window to submit a list of names to the Opposition Leader for the GECOM chairmanship.
There has been endless regurgitation of what the President of the CCJ told the court and here is one more act of regurgitation. These are the words of the CCJ: “We are of the view that the most sensible approach is that before the list is submitted, the Leader of the Opposition and the President must communicate with each other in good faith on, and perhaps even meet to discuss, eligible candidates for Chairman.
The aim of these discussions must be to agree on the names of six persons who fit the stated eligibility requirements and who are not unacceptable to the President. In this regard, the Constitution anticipates that the Leader of the Opposition and the President will conduct themselves in a reasonable and responsible manner, eschew partisanship, and seek the best interests of the Guyanese people…
Once the President and Leader of the Opposition have hammered out a list of names not unacceptable to the President, the list, comprising the six persons, must then formally be submitted to the President by the Leader of the Opposition and the President must select the Chairman from those names.”
Did Mr. Granger expect the educated men and women in those two settings in which he spoke would not have gone and read what the CCJ said? Where in that delivery and in the constitution, does the President have the right to offer a list and he could choose from same?
The volte face came no doubt via pressure from diplomatic sources for Granger to pick from the submissions of the Opposition Leader, someone the Guyanese people can trust and who has the character to be impartial.
Mr. Granger also uttered the unthinkable. He lifted GECOM above the reaches of the court. He said GECOM is independent. He informed his audience that the court cannot rule when there must be an election. But the court has done just that and the Guyanese court has done just that, when the case was first heard before the Chief Justice. That date is not specific, but the specificity of it is immaterial. After a no-confidence vote, there must be elections three months after. The Chief Justice stipulated that. The CCJ reinforced it.
GECOM is independent, according to the President. But he didn’t explain. My layman’s knowledge tells me no section of Guyana, even the presidency, is independent of the judiciary, for the simple reason that any actor or institution can violate the constitution and the court decides if there was a violation.
GECOM can do things that conflict with the constitution. A judge once ruled an election null and void because GECOM’s requirement of a voter identification card was a constitutional violation. Vishnu Persaud can ask the judiciary to find that GECOM abrogated his rights as a citizen when it selected someone over and above his qualifications.
My opinion is that Mr. Granger has shown his true colours. He is an authoritarian personality. That has implications for free and fair elections.
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