Some years back there were reports of two West Indian cricketing stars being seen drinking what were believed to be alcoholic beverages in a stand just moments after the completion of a Test match. That would have been all right had the West Indies team won. In fact they lost, and the images, broadcast across the cricketing world, of the two senior players reportedly imbibing after defeat, angered disappointed fans who saw the action as wanton disrespect for their feelings.
The question on the minds of regional cricketing followers then was: how could the two icons be celebrating defeat while fans were saddened? For the fans and even the administrators, the actions of the two cricketers were grossly insensitive and probably epitomised the believed lack of concern by some players over whether the team succeeded or not. This is despite the overwhelming support the fans gave hoping that with every match, victory will be achieved.
One interpretation of that incident is that for the players in question, the defeat probably never happened. Years after, a similar situation is playing out and it has nothing to do with cricket. A no-confidence motion against the Government was carried on December 21, 2018; the consequences of which must be elections within 90 days. In addition, the Government, while it remains in office during that period, operates in a caretaker capacity.
Thirty days have since elapsed following the success of the motion and from what is evident publicly it appears that the Government is not too keen to implement the necessary mechanism to meet the 90-day requirement as mandated by the Constitution. Instead, it has resorted to the courts. Many believe that to be frivolous excuses to delay abiding by the Constitution; in other words, the inevitable.
Prominent and ordinary citizens continue their calls on the Government to respect what the supreme law of the land dictates. So far, it appears that, for the Government, nothing will happen before the court rules. In the same manner, in keeping with their actions as if the no-confidence motion never happened, the President’s New Year’s address seems to confirm that view. For him, it seems to be business as usual. There appears to be no dissimilarity in the action of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
He would be excused during the time of his illness, even though there were reports of him being spotted in a village and in good health shortly after. That aside, while he returned to work yesterday (January 22), 31 days after the no-confidence motion, from reports in the media, there was nothing on his agenda to address the constitutional requirement for the holding of elections.
Obviously, the agenda can change given his prerogative as Chairman. However, the absence of the impending elections as an agenda item can suggest a lack of urgency and a deliberate attempt to ignore the work of the Chief Whips as agreed by the President and the Leader of the Opposition. For the GECOM Chairman, who is a retired Judge, it can also be interpreted as if the passage of the no-confidence motion never happened.
Barring an agreement by two thirds of the National Assembly for an extension of the 90-day period to facilitate the elections on a needs basis, a constitutional crisis can present itself on March 21 this year. From what seems evident from the standpoints of both the Government and the GECOM Chairman, one can assume that the March deadline may not even be on the horizon for them.
Of course, all can change in a moment given that the President placed the ball in GECOM’s court of readiness. With readiness just two and a half months ago for the Local Government Elections (LGE), the Chairman can declare such for polling by March 21. Only time will tell.
As the Government seeks recourse in the court, at the same time the President has been endorsed by his party, the People’s National Congress (PNC), as the presidential candidate for the impending elections according to its General Secretary. Also, the party is reportedly engaged in fund-raising activities specific to elections. Many see this as the natural thing to do in keeping with the timeframe mandated by the Constitution. The rush to the courts, therefore, becomes a delaying ploy.
Another ploy is the touting of house-to-house registration by a Commissioner from the Government side. GECOM would have taken pride in its list-readiness for the November 12 LGE and which would have had to be endorsed by the said Commissioner. How unready could the list now be less than three months after? This call, in the context of all that is transpiring, can therefore only be seen directly as a desperate and seemingly orchestrated plan to buy more time for the Government.
What is urgently needed, and which should have happened before, is for the GECOM Chairman to have the upcoming elections discussed at the Commission and readiness declared so that the President can announce a polling date. Anything else would make Guyanese further believe that for the Government, the no-confidence motion never really happened. Like the cricket fans in question, much is at stake.