In a matter of less than three months, Guyanese are expected to be heading to the polls to vote for a political party that will form the Government that they believe will push for the kind of development they wish to see. Citizens will also make their decision on the basis on which political party will more than likely follow the necessary principles and practices in keeping with transparent and accountable governance.
But of course, we all know by now that holding elections in such a time is dependent on whether the coalition Government would abide by the provisions in the Constitution, following its defeat in the recent no-confidence vote. It was stated before, and we repeat for emphasis sake; the Constitution is clear as to the actions that must be followed after a no-confidence vote: Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
With the Government’s defeat, the next steps in clause 7 of Article 106 goes on to state that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution be supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
The Government had initially accepted the motion, now turned resolution, but subsequently shifted its position with Attorney General Basil Williams having declared that the Administration intends to mount a legal challenge. On Friday, the case was filed by a private citizen on the ground that former MP Charrandas Persaud dual citizenship disqualifies his ability to vote.
The Speaker had refused a request by the Government to reverse his ruling on the no-confidence vote, saying he would leave it to the courts to make a “full, final and complete settlement” on the contentious issued raised.
The President and the Leader of the Opposition are expected to meet next week for dialogue and to determine the way forward taking into consideration that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration has lost the confidence of the majority of the people’s representative in Parliament.
The APNU/AFC Government has stated on numerous occasions before that it is proud of its accomplishments over the past three years. They had provided a long list of ‘achievements’ and boasted about not being afraid to face the electorate again. However, based on its recent actions, it is clear that the coalition Government is using all avenues; including the courts, to stall the process and to buy time.
One would think that if the Government is confident that it has performed creditably since it took the reins of political power, it would be anxious to go to the polls. Any Government that is confident of the way it has performed would call elections to get a renewed mandate from the electorate; more so considering the fact that one of its own members has expressed a loss of confidence in the way the Administration governs.
That said, once a date is set for national elections; the nation could expect fierce competition between the political parties as the stakes are high considering oil is expected to start flowing in 2020. Given the many concerns being raised with respect to the management of the oil sector, the new Government will be expected to take urgent measures to ensure that the revenues which accrue from the sector will not be squandered but, will be used towards building human and institutional capacity, addressing our poor infrastructure and providing economic security for future generations.
Of interest also is that quite a large number of young people would have attained the required age to vote, which would likely to result in the percentage of first-time voters to be significantly high. We should point out that in the last LGE and even the two previous General Elections, quite a number of eligible voters, among them young people, did not turn up on Polling Day to cast their ballots, and while we can only assume their reasons for doing so, no doubt some of them would have been “turned off” by the kind of politics that is practiced here.
Considering the events over the past two weeks, we believe that it is in the nation’s best interest if the country were to proceed with preparing for new elections and allow citizens to elect a Government of their choice. Let the people decide!