In a rather extraordinary statement, President David Granger reacted to the CJ judgment on the GECOM Chair’s appointment thusly: “I will continue to act in accordance with my perception of the Constitution.” The CJ, of course, had ruled that the individuals proposed by the Opposition Leader in accordance with Art 161 (2) didn’t have to be a “judge” or a “possible judge”. She’d advised the President to give reasons for his rejection of individuals – especially as to how he’d provided “criteria”.
To this the President retorted, “If you can show me the Article of the Constitution which requires me to give reasons, I will comply with the Constitution; but I will not do what the Constitution does not require me to do”. Meaning, he will continue to reject any and everybody Mr Jagdeo proposes — solely on his whims and fancies.
Now, this is a very serious situation, since the President insists he can arrogate the function of the Judiciary to interpret the Constitution!!
The question, of course, is: Who decides what the Constitution is “saying” on any given exercise of power — the Executive or Judiciary? In Guyana, we don’t have to guess; it’s trite law that it’s the Judiciary that interprets the Constitution under the separation of powers doctrine we follow. Judicial review is an example of the separation of powers in a modern governmental system – the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the Judiciary.
If this rule is broken by the Executive, what we have in Guyana is a dictatorship — short and simple. To begin with, in Guyana and other parliamentary democracies, the President, in addition to being head of the Executive, is effectively the head of the Legislature — which makes the law. The Prime Minister, his Ministers, and all the other MPs who’re salivating at the prospect of becoming Ministers are merely doing his bidding.
This is unlike in the US, where Congress is separate from the Executive — as seen by some Republican Congressmen and Senators willing to buck some of President Trump’s policies. So if Guyana is now to have a President who insists HIS interpretation of the Constitution trumps the Judiciary’s, what else does such a President become but a “dictator”? We will once again have one individual in whom all the powers of the State reside, and who, like Louis XIV and Burnham, can say with no irony, “I am the State!!”
The funny thing (not “ha, ha” funny, but “strange”) is the CJ had already given Prezzie a backdoor to appointing his (preordained?) choice.
He really didn’t have to degut the Judiciary.
Minister Rupert Roopnaraine’s resignation raises some interesting issues. Firstly, matters are still a bit hazy after his removal as Minister of Education — as to what he would’ve been responsible for as a Minister within the Ministry of the Presidency. Educational “innovation”? What the heck is that? NCERD on steroids?
Anyhow, the more interesting development is the WPA interjecting itself into the appointment of Dr Roopnaraine’s successor. Whether to “innovate” (“bloviate”? “titivate”??) in education and improve on the miracle in NGSA Maths — or in some other Ministry. We now know Prezzie hadn’t engaged the WPA brain trust on Roopnarine’s initial appointment, but they’d swallowed hard and accepted the imposition. Jagan hadn’t been treated so kindly back in ’92!! But what the heck? It’s now ‘all in the family”!
But they did suss out Prezzie and had him confirm the WPA has to get a Ministry. So who’ll it be? Can’t be their new Chair Tabitha-Halley….she’ll have to explain her M scholarship!!
Oops!! Roopnaraine’s mind was just changed!!