…move to counter Govt’s misrepresentation – Jagdeo
With General and Regional Elections not far away, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has contracted Washington, DC lobbying firm, Mercury Public Affairs as a consultant.
Mercury Public Affairs is a high-stakes public strategy and communications firm that provides services to the world’s most successful companies, leading advocacy groups, governments, political parties, NGOs, and prominent public and political figures, including US President Donald Trump.
According to PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo in an invited comment, the contract was signed early in March 2019 with a view towards correcting the misinformation being spread by the coalition Government.
“The [A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change] APNU/AFC Administration has been bombarding the world with lies about the state of our country. ‘Business as usual’ has been their mantra, even as they pillage the Treasury and show complete and utter disregard for our Constitution and ignore democratic norms.”
“The proactive move to hire a lobbying firm shows the firm grasp and understanding of modern geopolitics by the PPP/C. This is how American policy is shaped and the most effective way to counter APNU/AFC misrepresentation and deceit. The price is a small one to pay for the protection of our democracy,” Jagdeo added.
Jagdeo noted that the date of signing occurred just as Guyanese were faced with the gravest threat to their hard-won democratic rights. In this instance he was referring to the looming constitutional crisis following the passage of a motion of no-confidence against the coalition Government.
According to the former President, the decision to bring the firm on board is one that will see the issues and challenges facing Guyana being brought to the attention of those who shape policy and wield influence in the realm of United States government and politics.
“It is a harbinger of how a future PPP/C Administration will influence policy decisions regarding our country in a very positive manner,” he added. In an invited comment, Jagdeo further said he would address all issues regarding the hiring of the firm at his next press conference.
Since the passage of the No-confidence Motion, delegations from international organisations including the European Union (EU) have been meeting with both the parliamentary Opposition and the Government.
This happened as recently as April 10, 2019, when a delegation of European Ambassadors along with EU Ambassador to Guyana His Excellency Jernej Videti? and UK High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, met with a delegation from the parliamentary Opposition.
The Opposition’s representatives included Irfaan Ali, PPP Presidential Candidate; Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira; and parliamentarian Juan Edghill. These meetings have been geared towards seeking clarity over Guyana’s political situation.
Since the No-confidence Motion was passed and upheld by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Government moved to the courts. The High Court also upheld the passage of the motion, which meant that as per the Constitution elections should have been held by March 21. With the Government refusing to schedule elections to meet that deadline, the constitutional crisis of which the Opposition Leader alluded to, loomed, at that point the Government appealed.
The Court of Appeal ruled in a 2:1 split decision that an “absolute” majority of 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the No-confidence Motion brought against the Government last year. While Justice Rishi Persaud had dismissed the appeal and concurred with the ruling of the Chief Justice in the High Court, his two colleague Appellate Judges allowed the State’s appeal.
Both Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory opined that while 33 is the majority of the 65-member National Assembly, the successful passage of a No-confidence Motion requires an “absolute majority” of 34, and not the “simple” majority of 33 that has been used to pass ordinary business in the House, even though the Constitution does not mention the word “absolute” and specifically defined the meaning of majority is specific contexts.
The cases were referred to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) by the PPP and the court set May 10 as the date for hearing the no-confidence cases. The CCJ had the three cases, Christopher Ram v the Attorney General of Guyana, The Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo v the Attorney General of Guyana, Dr Barton Scotland and Joseph Harmon; and Charrandas Persaud v Compton Herbert Reid, Dr Barton Scotland, Bharrat Jagdeo and Joseph Harmon; all abridged to save time.