Ever since the vote of no confidence against the Government was carried by a parliamentary majority, it subsequently mooted a number of reasons in an effort to have the vote declared invalid. It has resorted to the court, which is expected to rule by the end of the month. Shocking is the convenient argument that 33 is not a majority of 65 elected members of the National Assembly. That is the premise of one of the related cases.
In addition to that and the other convenient argument of dual citizenship, abuse directed at Charrandas Persaud, the Government Member of Parliament who voted against it and whose vote allowed for the motion to be carried, has continued unabated in various forms in both the traditional and new media. Among the many deplorable things stated, is that by voting the way he did, he may have committed treason. That implies a serious offence of wanting to overthrow the Government by unlawful means.
Clearly, those who are trying to make that case are also involved in nothing but an argument of convenience. What they have conveniently discarded is that Guyana is now a democratic country and everyone, including Persaud, has free will that allows for freedom of choice regardless of the impact of their decisions and whether it finds unison in agreement. Each Member of Parliament (MP) took an oath of office, which is not confined to just upholding the Constitution but conducting affairs in the interest of Guyana and Guyanese.
In his mind, he felt that the party and Government he represented were not working in the interest of the people and country and used his freedom of choice to deliver upon the oath he took. A vote of no confidence is enshrined in the Constitution and the process following its success clearly defined. It could have been any other Government MP doing what Persaud did, for, in their opinion, the betterment of their fellow citizens.
He gave a number of reasons for the way he voted. That aside, one cannot dismiss the possible impact of him seeing the daily sufferings of the thousands of fired sugar workers in proximity where he lived. He would have voted to support the Government’s closure of the estates. If that contributed to his decision, it shows that he has a conscience. He did say his vote was one of conscience. Not surprisingly but conveniently, the Government subsequently stated that the vote on the no-confidence motion was not one of conscience.
That in itself speaks to the suppression of free will. In that context, the Government is pellucid that despite how an MP feels about national issues, he/she has to abandon that and support the party even if it could be detrimental to the country and its people. How then can there be relevance in the oath of executing the duties of the office in question without favour or ill will? He was convinced that the party he represented did an about-turn on its principles and promises. Having played along for years, he, like any reasonable human being, has a right to not only change his mind after having felt a sense of betrayal, but to simply do what he believes to be best. How could his actions then be even considered treasonous when his freedom of choice as well as the right to a no-confidence vote are enshrined in the Constitution?
As recently as Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and her Government suffered historically the largest defeat in a parliamentary vote. It was on the Brexit deal. That happened because many of her own MPs voted against her. Their votes were a reflection of how they feel about May’s plans for Brexit. They did not like it; in their minds they did not think it is good for the country and, therefore, could not support it. In other words, it was a vote of their conscience and they will not be accused of being treasonous.
That is what elected representatives are expected to do in a democratic society. While some would disagree and be utterly disappointed, it’s part of the process as safeguarded by the Constitution. Persaud’s vote is protected by the supreme law of the land and must be safeguarded, along with that of those who may do likewise in the future. Threats, therefore, have no place in a free society and must be condemned as must be the accusations of treason.
That raises concerns as to whether there is a veiled threat, in the context of freedom of choice reportedly from what was posited by the Government that he cannot vote against the list he represented in Parliament. Again, that could be seen as an attack on democracy and an indictment on the Government, which boasted of upholding the Constitution and democratic principles.
The said Government, when in the Opposition, had wielding a vote of no confidence over the Donald Ramotar Administration. Then for them, it was constitutional and not treasonous. How now can the opposite be applicable, for the Constitution has not changed? What has, is the thinking and action of convenience for an extended grab of power.