Next stage is to seek int’l sanctions against Govt officials – Jagdeo
Protests for constitutional compliance
– warns that int’l pressure on President to call elections will only get worse
– President Granger to address nation on holding elections today
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has warned that his party is prepared to go to the next stage of seeking sanctions from the international community against individuals in the coalition Government, if necessary, to force President David Granger to obey the Constitution.
Jagdeo made this pronouncement during a radio programme, “The Hot Seat”, on Tuesday. While he made it clear that the Opposition takes no joy in having to protest against the President for violating the Constitution, it is a necessary fight to protect Guyana’s democracy.
“We view it as a tragedy every time we have to protest to get people who took an oath, to uphold the Constitution. It is a tragedy for Guyana. It is a problem for our country when we have to force people to respect the Constitution and the ruling of the court. We don’t do it with excitement, but because it’s necessary. Someone has to stand up for the Constitution.”
“The next stage we’ll move, is to seek sanctions against individuals, so that they comply with the Constitution. And we will continue the protests until he names an early election date. We believe he should name one in February. We won’t be happy with it, but at least the country knows there is an end to this.”
After strong statements from the diplomatic community calling out President Granger for defying the Constitution, the President in an attempt to hit back at them had criticised them for not having apologised for slavery or paying reparations. Jagdeo described this as clutching at straws.
“We believe that international organisations and people accredited to Guyana must work with the Government within a framework. But there are some universal values that go above national frameworks. Issues of human rights. Issues concerning democratic order and the rule of law.”
“So when Granger says they’re colonisers, hitting out, what he was [hurting about] was their statement about constitutional rule and democracy… the international pressure will mount on him and he knows this. I think the international community was very explicit. Unconstitutional rule, it will affect business, it will affect investments and their ability to help Guyana.”
It was only on Monday that the Commonwealth became the latest in a long line of organisations to criticise the Government for operating outside of the norms of constitutional rule, urging President Granger in a statement to call elections immediately.
In the statement, Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland urged the President to immediately set an early election date. Scotland noted that this must be done in accordance with the Constitution, so that constitutional rule can be restored.
The Secretary General referenced the Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling, which had clearly set out the timeframe for an election after a No-Confidence Motion. As such, Scotland said in her statement that elections were constitutionally overdue in Guyana.
Guyana is one of 53 member countries of the Commonwealth, which comprises almost entirely of former British colonies. The Commonwealth has been known to suspend member countries for violating democratic principles, including Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
Even today, Zimbabwe still has a membership application pending before the Commonwealth, with Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa meeting Baroness Scotland on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday to discuss it.
It was only days ago that members of the diplomatic corps, such as representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, called for the President to immediately name an election date.
On Friday last, the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Guyana condemned the coalition Government for its failure to hold General and Regional Elections within the period mandated by the Constitution, which it reminded is supreme law.
This came after protests against the President and pressure from the diplomatic community, to ensure the Government acts in accordance with the Constitution. The PPP has already warned that they will continue to protest for constitutional compliance until the President names an election date.
Meanwhile, as President David Granger is set to address the nation this evening (Wednesday), a source within the PPP stated that his reluctance to set a date for elections before the end of February 2020 will see continuous protests by citizens. His address comes after he would have met with his Cabinet on Tuesday while barricading several streets around the Ministry of the Presidency.