Protesters call out Granger over illegal Govt at GMSA luncheon
Protesters rose from their seats as caretaker President David Granger attempted to deliver his feature address during the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) luncheon on Thursday, voicing concerns over his illegal Government.
The event at the Pegasus Hotel was met by protesters waving placards and chanting for democracy to prevail in Guyana, which stumbled into an illegality on Thursday following the expiration of the constitutionally-mandated period for elections to be held after the passage of a No-Confidence Motion.
After being greeted by a firm opposition, Granger was forced to discontinue his speech until the situation was tamed. This continued for several minutes as persons strongly rejected the non-adherence to constitutional deadlines as directed by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which ruled that the Constitution of Guyana must be upheld. That ruling was made on June 18, 2019 which meant elections should have been held on or before September 18.
The Police were called in and asked to escort the group of protesters from the room. However, another group of individuals were waiting in the lobby area of the hotel, voicing similar calls.
Cognisant that protest actions were in progress outside the hotel as well, the President commented, “Apparently, the hooliganism has migrated from outside to inside.”
However, moments later, Opposition Leader Jagdeo posited at his weekly press conference that the President would have been accorded the respect deserving of his position had he upheld the Constitution and not been in breach.
Jagdeo admitted it was his party – the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – which was behind the protest at the event, noting that they have nothing to hide.
According to the Opposition Leader, such actions will continue to follow the Head of State until he complies with the Constitution and announces a date for elections.
“We will target the person; he’s acting illegally and so Granger, wherever he shows up and wherever he goes, is going to be met with protests and disruptions that will say to him that we’re not gonna tolerate a dictatorship in this country… So Granger will get all the attention from us because he is the one who has to make the decisions. He will get all the love from the PPP side,” Jagdeo said.
The Opposition Leader went on to reassure that these protest actions would not become violent or harm innocent people.
To this end while being mindful of the responsibility of the Guyana Police Force, he said that the Police should in turn be cognisant of people’s right to peacefully protest.
Meanwhile, Granger was then allowed to continue his speech, where he highlighted the importance of political stability in the business environment. According to him, apart from the protest action, there is no unrest in the country.
“Political stability promotes increased investments, reduces risks and the cost of doing business, and boosts investor confidence in the economy. My Government will not condone violations of the law which endanger public order and public security. There is not political unrest in Guyana …The business community need not fear political violence and social unrest,” Granger indicated.
Further, he attempted to reassure the business community that Guyana would head to the polls in the shortest possible time. This has been reiterated at several engagements with civil society and the Private Sector since the CCJ court ruling that the No- Confidence Motion was validly passed, but no concrete measures were announced by him about early elections.
“My Government assures the business community of its resolve to ensuring credible elections at the earliest time possible. In terms of the economy, the manufacturing and services sector has been making significant contributions to national development,” he posited.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo recently reminded the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of its responsibility to prepare for conducting elections, noting that President Granger has been using its preparedness “as an excuse” to delay the hosting of early polls.
Apart from the Opposition’s numerous calls, civil society has also taken to the streets in peaceful picketing exercises, calling on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government to resign. The Mass Action People’s Movement (MAPM) is one such organisation which had slammed the caretaker Government for what it believes is a violation of the Constitution. The group had said last month that it was ready to keep up the protests until the Government resigned.
The Constitution of Guyana states that following the passage of a No-Confidence Motion, the President and Cabinet must resign and elections be held within three months. But Government had spent much of this time in court seeking to overturn the motion, rather than ensuring elections were held.
After delivering its ruling on June 18, 2019, the CCJ issued consequential orders stipulating that the Cabinet must resign and call elections in keeping with the constitutional deadline, that is, three months. Since this deadline had already elapsed from the passage of the No-Confidence Motion on December 21, the countdown had commenced on June 18, putting the deadline on September 18 of this year.
This was backed by the Chief Justice Roxane George’s clarifications later that, indeed, a three-month deadline should be upheld when she corrected reports in the media. This was the basis of the picketing urging the President to make an early call for elections. December 21, 2019 will mark one year since the No-Confidence Motion was passed in the National Assembly after the historic ‘yes’ vote by Charrandas Persaud on the Government’s side.
After that, GECOM had embarked on a House-to-House Registration exercise, which has since been halted.