Kaieteur News – The PNC/R is in a domineering mode. After the recent elections of the party’s abbreviated Congress, the new executive demanded ‘corn and husk’.
The party wanted it all. It insisted that its new Leader be also the Leader of the Opposition as well as the Representative of the List.
To paraphrase what Burnham once said, “it is all or nothing.” The PNC/R while claiming that it wants all hands on deck is not prepared to have different poles of power or responsibility, within the party and within the National Assembly.
The party could have dictated the positions and posture of its parliamentary representatives without the need to seize the post of the Leader of the Opposition. But it appears that internal power sharing is not part of the party’s new dispensation.
And it is a new dispensation. What has taken place within the party was effectively a culmination of the rebellion which occurred within the PNC/R after the decision of David Granger to accept the lawful declaration of the Guyana Elections Commission and after his decision to exclude certain individuals from returning to the National Assembly. From that moment, the rebellion intensified.
The rebellion is now being replaced by a domineering mode. But this is hardly a novel development for the PNC/R. No doubt, it was the party which decided that the PNC/R divorce itself from the AFC for the 2018 local government elections. No doubt, following those elections, it was the party which opted to insist that the AFC was over-represented in the National Assembly. This inevitably bred tensions within the Coalition and led to the still secret revisions to the Cummingsburg Accord.
The party could not also have been unaware also of the strains which resulted from the failure to initially announce Khemraj Ramjattan as the Coalition’s Prime Ministerial Candidate for the 2020 polls or about the decision to remove the architect of Big Tent politics, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, as Minister of Education.
The domineering mode of the party was shown within the government. The AFC was reduced to the PNC/R’s doormat. It could not even belch following the decision – which was opposed by one leader of the AFC – to supersede David Ramnarine as Commissioner of Police. Nor did it vent any public dissatisfaction to take away the oil portfolio from the Minister of Natural Resources.
The domineering even was evident within the National Assembly. The AFC had negotiated a safeguard mechanism as part of the original Cummingsburg Accord. It opted for a neutral Representative of the List so as to prevent the PNC/R from violating the agreement reached between the sides. The person chosen was Professor Harold Lutchman. Stabroek News recently reported him as saying that the position of Representative of the List was just a formality and that he was not part of any decision-making process. The report went on to state that “He had explained that if changes needed to be made, the then President made it and sent the documents to him for his signature.”
The PNC/R even encroached on the portfolios of the AFC. It has been suggested that even though the AFC held the ministerial portfolio for information, the decision to remove two columnists from the Guyana Chronicle originated outside of the AFC.
Ironically, the PNC/R owed its return to power to coalition politics and not to election rigging, long associated with past PNC elections victories. Coalition politics requires consensus, compromise and conciliation not domination, despotism or dictatorship.
The PNC/R now wants to dictate who should be the Leader of the Opposition and who should be the Representative of the List. It made its decision without any consultation with the AFC or APNU. The party decided, thereby clearly demonstrating how it intends to operate henceforth.
Unfortunately, the laws of Guyana, including the Constitution, do not expressly make provision for the removal of the Representative of the List. The APNU+AFC, much less the PNC/R, is not free to decide on a replacement for the Representative of the List. Nor do Guyana’s laws provide for the Deputy Representative of the List to automatically succeed the Representative of the List.
The question, therefore, of removing or replacing the Representative of the List does not reside with the PNC/R. Having already decided on who is the Representative of the List, a legal vacuum exists in terms of that person’s removal or replacement from parliament. But given the mode the PNC/R is in, do not be surprised if it invents its own rules.
(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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