Govt in breach of Guyana’s Constitution – ABE diplomats
…hint at withholding funding
…caretaker President rejects diplomats’ conclusion
After the APNU/AFC coalition Government’s failure to honour Guyana’s constitutional provisions – which state that General and Regional Elections ought to be called within three months of the successful passage of a No-Confidence Motion (NCM) unless other determined by a two thirds Parliamentary majority— the American, British and European (ABE) Union missions have now deemed the Government to be in breach of the Constitution.
The United States of America Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch; British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn and the European Union Ambassador, Fernando Ponz Cantó in a joint statement on Thursday said, “that by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders”.
The statement was issued moments after Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice Claudette Singh dispatched a letter to President David Granger informing him that the electoral body would be ready to hold credible elections by the end of February 2020.
The Diplomatic Missions expressed appreciation of the work of the Commission, but noted that it still puts the country way behind the timeline as outlined in Article 106 of the Constitution.
“This situation comes at great cost to the people of Guyana. The prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and delays development across all areas including infrastructure, education, health, and social services. It also hinders our ability to support Guyana’s development needs. We therefore call upon the President to set an elections date immediately in full compliance with Guyana’s Constitution,” the statement read.
However, the strongly worded statement did not go down too well with caretaker President Granger, who told reporters that the ABE Missions should allow the Government to resolve its issues.
“My only response is that the Government is abiding by the Constitution in the sense that it has allowed the Elections Commission, an autonomous agency, to do its work. I have received a letter from the Elections Commission Chairman and I should be meeting my Cabinet to discuss that. The Constitution is very clear in the functions of the Commission. I would be in more grievous breach of the Constitution if I try to intrude or interfere in the work of the Commission, so I advise the foreign delegations to allow the Government of Guyana to resolve the issues,” President Granger said on the sidelines of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) business luncheon.
The President expressed confidence in the advice he received from Justice Singh as it relates to the readiness of GECOM, noting that she would have only concluded the timeframe after considering all the facts before her. He noted that elections could not be called if GECOM is not ready since it may lead to cancellation at the last minute.
Granger said that the advice will be discussed with his Cabinet and they, as a collective, will decide on a way forward.
When directly asked whether he feels that his Government is in breach of the very Constitution they took an oath to uphold, the President said, “I am not in breach of the Constitution. As far as I am concerned, Guyana and the Government of Guyana is complying with the Constitution. I’ve said what I’ve said about the receipt of advice from the Chairman of the Commission. It is impossible for the Executive to run the elections. I will not allow the executive to intrude”.
Granger ignored Art 61 of the Constitution which stipulates that he has to set the date for elections and GECOM can only object as per Art 162(2) if it can show “hardship” or “danger”.
Questions are now being raised about the state of Guyana since the Government is now acting outside the realms of the Constitution and can be deemed “illegal”.