There has been extensive reportage and opinions on the APNU/AFC Government’s continuous and deliberate delay of elections that should have been held as of March 21 this year.
Despite that, and a related ruling by the nation’s highest legal recourse— the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)— the Government remains steadfast to its own interpretation, thereby, creating an unnecessary, but self-serving, political deadlock.
With just about five months since that constitutional deadline has elapsed, there is still no clear indication as to when the elections will be held. Today, the Chief Justice is expected to rule on the House-to-House (HtH) Registration currently ongoing at the behest of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). That exercise was embarked upon by the Chief Elections Officer following an order signed by the immediate past Chairman— whose appointment was ruled as unconstitutional by the CCJ.
The Government is adamant on the necessity of the HtH, despite constitutional provisions to derive a credible voters’ list. Such actions by the Government speak to yet another glaring delaying mechanism it deliberately imposes to extend its stay in office.
Recently, the Attorney General reportedly said that there is no provision for snap elections here. That is either a gross misinterpretation or deliberate trampling on clear and enshrined constitutional provisions on the said matter. That statement, in many ways, has come to embody Government’s position and its ongoing imposition. It is a clear case of wantonly peddling misinformation at a time when fake news seem to be taking a stranglehold.
In doing so, the Government has imprinted in the mind-sets of its supporters that HtH is the only mechanism to derive a credible voters’ list. More fake news. In addition, it deliberately and conveniently avoids any mention of the constitutional provisions to derive a credible list, while at the same time, warning of dire consequences if the HtH process is halted. It can only be seen as a calculative and most dangerous ploy, taking into consideration the warring and its historical context.
From all appearances, the Government’s delaying tactics strongly suggest a fear of it losing the elections and the possibility of being made to answer for alleged massive and widespread corruption. Its dismal record since taking office in 2015 more than likely underscores that fear as it’s devoid of anything substantive to boast about. It has even failed abysmally in an area of perceived strength— crime fighting.
From its actions, there seems entrenched an obsession with self-preservation and self-advancement by the Government at the expense of the country, the people and democracy. Since 2015, Government has not been subtle in demonstrating a preference to circumvent established governance procedures, and, over the past eight months, there has been an increase and constant assault on Guyana’s democracy and Constitution.
While some have boldly called out the Government, many have been fearful to speak out for obvious reasons. As it is, the Government has emboldened itself and continues to act as if it’s not bound by the Constitution. Hard-lined supporters are also emboldened as a frightening prospect in the context of the warning looms.
With that in mind, calling a spade a spade is also not without risk. While many have wondered, they may be afraid to publicly ask: what if the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had done what the Government has? It’s a fair question. Even when the PPP, as a government, acted constitutionally, the APNU/AFC coalition, when in Opposition, were up in arms and took to the streets, often with dire consequences, which history vindicates.
The Government’s duplicitousness is therefore mind-boggling, as evident in one instance under the Donald Ramotar administration. Then, the APNU/AFC coalition used the said constitutional provision for a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) to try and oust the then PPP/C Government. Then, the APNU/AFC coalition had no misunderstanding, misinterpretation or ambiguity in any form as to what must happen constitutionally in the event of a NCM, including snap elections within ninety days.
It threatened such and was on the verge of filing it when President Ramotar prorogued Parliament as he was constitutionally allowed to do. That was condemned by APNU/AFC to the point of convincing that Ramotar did something that was unlawful. It clearly was not, but made to appear so by a coalition for reason of convenience.
That said, the APNU/AFC Government must answer: why when it was in the Opposition, a NCM was constitutional and the results must be abided by, but now in government, it refuses to abide and deems it a conspiracy? Why, now in government, there is suddenly no provisions for a snap election? Why, now in government, defying the Constitution is brazenly defended?
With a growing fear of possible election rigging by the Government, the burning questions many are afraid to ask is: What if the PPP/C had abdicated to GECOM its responsibility of ensuring constitutional timeframe for the holding of elections? The answers are frightening to say the least.