While much has been said and continues to be said about the successful passage of the No-confidence Motion on December 21, 2018, and its mandated constitutional process, much more will be said. This is simply because the Government, up to this point, has refused to abide by the enshrined process. It has filed an appeal to the Chief Justice’s ruling which upheld the validity of the parliamentary vote.
Many have since concluded that the Government’s action is a demonstration of total disregard for the rule of law and which may be supported by recent public utterances by some senior Government officials. Just weeks after the successful holding of Local Government Elections (LGE) by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), these officials in question are trying to discredit the voters’ list used. The integrity of that list was not an issue then.
Suddenly, with elections constitutionally mandated following the passage of the No-confidence Motion, the list is coming under attack by the Government with a pronouncement by one official that it is compromised. Now the Administration is intensifying its call for new house-to-house registration; the idea of which was reportedly floated by a supportive GECOM Commissioner.
How could the list go from good to unacceptable within such a short time? The answer seems to lie in the prevailing belief that the attacks on the list are nothing but excuses for not having the elections within the 90-day stipulated time frame. From the thrust of its appeal of the Chief Justice’s ruling, asking primarily for the judgement to be stayed and for the Government to remain in office, seeming indefinitely in the context of the constitutional timeframe, that belief appears not to be in doubt.
In what seems a desperate effort to make its case for a delay through the offering of a red-herring in the form of house-to-house registration, the Government has resorted to protest action to try and find support for its case. Not to let up, one official reportedly said that a no-confidence does not exist in our Constitution. While some comments can evoke laughter, a very worrying situation is developing as the end of the 90-day period approaches.
Many are worried as to what will happen after March 21 if the elections are not held or no parliamentary extension, which must be supported by the Opposition, is agreed to. There could be economic implications in addition to a possible political impasse. There are already reports of a reduction in foreign currency with exchange rates climbing. If no reprieve, then there is a great chance of a further escalation in the cost of living.
These are the realties, and the flagrant disregard for the Constitution can only worsen it. Ironically, the Government seems aware that it is caught with the holding of early elections despite seeking help from the courts to stay in office. How else can the sudden presence of officials in outreaches across the country be explained? On the heels of the passage of the No-confidence Motion, Ministers are out and about meeting and interacting with some sustaining public days.
This is not to take away from the few who hold regular public days over time; however, there has been a noticeable presence of these officials in parts of the country following the December 21, 2018, vote. A few, who may have never ventured out of office for such engagements are now basking in the spotlight. Even what may be considered as insignificant, is now used as an impetus to engage residents. Similarly, within the same period, a number of potholed-roads in the city and some other areas have been fixed.
This strongly suggests electioneering and may not have been realised at this juncture had it not been for the No-confidence Motion. The State media also seems to have gone in campaign overdrive in an attempt to convince the populace that the Government has their interest at heart. Accused of abandoning the electorate and alienating them through the implementation of unpopular policies, the government seems to be in catch-up mode on all fronts.
Simply put, it seems to be doing everything to prop itself up and searching for straws, while ignoring the rule of law as dictated by the Constitution. This can only help to confirm the widespread belief that it is preoccupied with remaining in office, possibly at the expense of the best interest of the nation and its people. This is what continues to fuel uncertainty as what could play out after March 19 if no agreement is reached.
From all perspectives the Government has a responsibility to not only adhere to the rule of law, but also not to put the welfare of the nation in jeopardy. This must be led by no other that the Head of State and for society to ensure accountability. Voices of reason must therefore continue to be heard and not be made silent. It is common knowledge that the collective has the potential to influence suggesting that much more may be said.
Silence would bring into focus the words of Guyana’s renowned poet, Martin Carter, who penned that all are involved, all are consumed. The context therefore seems apt.