No “good faith” efforts by Govt – Jagdeo tells Carter Center

Court-ordered Article 106 March 19 elections

…says APNU/AFC seem bent on creating constitutional crisis

Representatives from the US-based Carter Centre met with members of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Monday where they met with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo along with Opposition Members of Parliament Juan Edghill and Priya Manickchand. The Carter Centre team included Associate Director, Brett Lacy, and Legal and Electoral Advisor, Anne Marlborough.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

The representatives are in Guyana on a fact-finding mission to ascertain the country’s preparedness to host General and Regional Elections following the December 21, 2018 passage of a motion of no-confidence against the coalition Government.
In an interview with Guyana Times, the Opposition Leader said he briefed the visiting officials on his party’s perspective on the elections.
“We welcomed the meeting and we’re pleased that they’ve shown continued interest in the governance issues in Guyana, particularly free and fair elections. We also used to the opportunity to outline our perspective on how the matters are evolving,” he stated.
According to the Opposition Leader, he made it clear that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change coalition seems “hell bent” on violating the Constitution.
“I told them that there is almost no respect for the [High] Court’s decision and that Government is operating in a manner and have made public pronouncements that it is ‘business as usual’. There has been no good faith effort made by this Government to meet the constitutional deadline and that they are pushing us into a constitutional crisis once the March 19 deadline expires,” Jagdeo said he told the Carter Centre representatives.
Since the passage of the No-confidence Motion, the Opposition has been reaching out to a number of international organisations to update them on the political situation in Guyana. As such, Jagdeo said this visit by the Carter Centre demonstrates that Guyana and the events happening here are being watched closely.
“We’ve been having regular meetings with the international community and I know that they are very concerned with the developments in Guyana and I believe that at the appropriate time, stronger views will be expressed,” he stated.
Already international pressure on the country has mounted. Only recently, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka urged the State to demonstrate its integrity and respect the Constitution as she reminded that building a peaceful and just society requires respect for the rule of law and confidence in national institutions.
“Recent political developments triggered by the no-confidence vote in the National Assembly, are a test for Guyana’s strength and integrity with regards to the effectiveness of the rule of law and governance. The delivery of the decisions by the Chief Justice demonstrate the independence and integrity of the Judiciary in protecting the Constitution and upholding the rule of law. The Honourable Speaker’s earlier validation of the process of the controversial voting at the National Assembly was testimony of the integrity of the Legislative arm of the State. It is hoped that the third arm of the State, the Executive, will demonstrate its integrity and respect for Guyana’s Constitution and the Judiciary that constitute the foundation for the rule of law,” Tanaka noted.
While the length of the Carter Centre officials’ visit is unknown, the team has already met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). During that meeting, they engaged Chairman, Justice James Patterson; Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield; and the three Opposition Commissioners. The three Government Commissions did not show for the meeting on Monday.
Later that day, the Carter Centre representatives also met with Minister of State Joseph Harmon; Social Protection Minister Amna Ally; and Political Advisor, Dr Mark Kirton at the Ministry of the Presidency.

Civil society
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the visiting team participated in a civil society forum meeting with local stakeholders. The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) made a presentation, which according to its General Secretary Lincoln Lewis, highlights the need for society to vest itself in good governance, while also emphasising on the Centre’s crucial role at this point in time.
Lewis maintains that the GTUC’s concern is on rights and the rule of law, and the application of justice for all.
The GTUC head believes Government and the Opposition should return to the National Assembly, not only to address the issue of election and matters pertaining to how Government should “function” consistent with Article 106 (7), but to put in place structures to realise inclusion of political and non-political stakeholders.