Stabroek News of 7th October 2019 carried an article titled “No going back to Parliament- Nandlall says in reply to Williams.” We must examine the content of that article not only for its arrogance but the potential of further eroding the Rule of Law.
In a press release by Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland, dated September 23, 2019 a crucial statement that could not be missed and which is pertinent to our current situation is the importance of restoring “constitutional rule” (constitutional normalcy). Further to note, The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its Consequential Order of July 12th ruled: “Article 106 of the Constitution invests in the President and the National Assembly (and implicitly in GECOM), responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the elections….”
The Constitution of Guyana dictates what is needed to restore normalcy. It includes various roles requiring the Government/Cabinet, the Opposition, GECOM and the National Assembly to act. One area for settlement is before the Chief Justice and will be ruled on October 16th. Another is being circumvented by the PPP’s refusal to return to the National Assembly, a requirement which as noted in above quote from the CCJ, is invested in Article 106 and which has an “impact on the precise timing of the elections….” The CCJ ruling makes clear the role of the National Assembly in this current situation and such clarity is further evident in the statement made by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth who precisely said: “The CCJ’s ruling was clear that the Guyana Constitution sets out certain requirements for the time of an election after the valid passing of a no-confidence motion.”
Towards “restoring constitution rule” via the National Assembly, the nation has been advised that this body will come out of recess on October 10th. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams has since reportedly invited the Opposition to return to Parliament to vote in keeping with, as per the CCJ, what the “Constitution invests in Article 106… the precise timing of the elections.” Article 106 (7) references the timing to “hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall…determine….”
There can be no question as to the role and importance of the National Assembly. Mr. Jagdeo’s continued denial of this process has to be dealt with lawfully. Parliament is now out of recess and a sitting must be convened regardless of what Mr. Jagdeo says. Let him/the PPP fail to be in attendance. Both Government and Opposition have an equal responsibility to return to the National Assembly and to comply with the Constitution of Guyana.
No excuse is acceptable if either party fails to abide by the constitutional dictates. As the Opposition exercises its right to have a judicial hearing in determining the resignation clause as per Article 106 which will be ruled on in a few days from now, the coalition government has equal right to seek available ways and means to address the PPP’s stated refusal to return to the National Assembly to honour its constitutional responsibility.
In a recent press conference Williams is quoted as saying if the Opposition fails to return to the National Assembly “…obviously, it would create a crisis situation which will imply the doctrine of necessity.” According to the online International Journal of Law, Doctrine of Necessity “describe(s) the basis on which administrative actions by administrative authority, which are designed to restore order, are found to be constitutional.” The administrative authority of Guyana remains the coalition government irrespective of the “caretaker,” status or any other status its political opponent may find convenient to use. There may be other judicial options available to the coalition.
The constitution is clear and Guyana must abide by the laws as defined therein and by a court of law, not by the skillful orchestrations of any political or other forces seeking power and willing to violate the Constitution of Guyana and the gullibility of some of our people.
It is instructive to note the Opposition, via Anil Nandlall, has amended its language and instead of saying the CCJ ruled elections must be held by September 18th it now declares “the CCJ intimated that the deadline for holding elections was September 18, 2019….” This is another orchestrated effort to mislead the international community and the locals. The fact of the matter remains, neither statement is true and neither he nor anyone else in or out of the PPP can provide evidence to support such claims. None is available!
The CCJ never “ruled” or never “intimated” that election should be held by September 18th. There was no such judgement. The international community is being taken for a ride and hoodwinked by the PPP and its high priced lobbyists to circumvent the process by which Guyana can peacefully and legally “restore constitutional rule” as stated in the constitution and as ruled by the CCJ. This can have serious consequences when it comes to confidence in the international community, establishing legal precedents, and building a nation on truth and high moral standards. I call on the international community to review carefully the primary sourced documents so as not to be further misled and taken on a ride by the political opposition of Guyana, whose record when it comes to truth is abysmally low and premised on “alternate facts.”
The nation is reminded that Kaieteur News (KN) August 3, 2019 reports in an article titled ‘Elections date long gone…’ that acting Chief Justice (CJ) Roxane George-Wiltshire basing her argument on the CCJ’s ruling reportedly expressed, “we are supposedly in a period of an extension for the timeframe for holding elections, but that extension has not been agreed on.” The CJ is quoted directly as saying, “We are still waiting on the National Assembly to meet.” There is no duplicity in these judgments made by the CCJ and further validated by the Chief Justice. Further evidence of the CCJ’s ruling which the CJ maintains is that, “the elections timeframe set out in the Constitution has already elapsed and it is now for Parliament to extend same” (KN Oct 5, 2019 ‘Chief Justice to rule on resignation of Cabinet on October 16).
Parliament comprises the Coalition and the Opposition. Evidenced truth should not be difficult for Mr. Jagdeo, his supporters, the media, international community and all to understand. However given the gargantuan lies and misrepresentations being spread by the PPP and overwhelming society, facts are virtually made incomprehensible to discern. The PPP influenced by Mr. Jagdeo refutes this ruling by throwing out “alternate facts” about the judgment and the need for his party to return to the National Assembly.
The people of Guyana owe it to themselves, their children and future generations to demonstrate a strong affinity to truth and not a willingness to uphold ‘high class deception and blatant lies’. We must demand hard evidence from primary sources not just opinion and propaganda pieces from political leaders, sections of the media and those who shape public opinions whilst engaged in the game of continuous deception of the masses. We must listen carefully to both sides, question the stories they tell and do our own research.
The era of “alternate facts” must not become a cloak for the Opposition to hide its obligatory role of returning to the National Assembly even as it denies and seeks to avoid its own responsibilities, kerfuffles the nation in its frequent attacks denigrating and propagandising against any and every legal means utilised by the “caretaker” government which is the authorised administrator to “restore constitutional rule” and regain sanity. The era of “alternate facts” must not be allowed to shape Guyana’s destiny. We deserve better!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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