Respect for Guyana’s Constitution

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn, on Monday, in an exclusive interview with this newspaper, remained the Government that the clock is ticking with respect to the constitutionally due elections. Quinn was the first diplomat to rise his voice and urge respect for Guyana’s Constitution on December 21, 2018 when the no-confidence motion tabled by the Opposition was successfully passed in the National Assembly. Again, on Monday, Quinn called for Guyana’s supreme law to be respected.
Guyana’s current political situation is not escaping the glare of the international community. Only a few weeks ago, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) made public calls for constitutional adherence and free and fair elections. Even before those calls, the Government dug its heels in and resorted to the courts, a move many saw as an attempt to find solace and delay the constitutional directives.
As a reminder, the Government, through the Prime Minister and the President, did publicly accept the successful passage of the no-confidence motion, and stated adherence to the Constitution. They flipped following the insertion of a preposterous mathematical theory, and the rest is now history.
Government has and continues to expend much effort and tax payers’ money to try and convince some sections of the Guyanese population against what is stated in the Constitution. This is done under the guise of court actions and an appeal of the Chief Justice’s ruling, which reaffirmed the validity of the no-confidence vote and the need for elections to be held within the 90-day period as stipulated in the Constitution. With less than half of the 90-day period left, there is still no sign of the Government indicating a willingness to comply.
As a matter of fact, the Attorney General proclaimed the Government will go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) if necessary. This speaks to a protracted period with no finite time frame. Again, this is contradictory to what the Constitution states. The President has since boldly stated his Government is legitimate and has done nothing outside of the law.
Of concern must therefore be the refusal to adhere to the Constitution in the quest to hold on to power.
As stated before by this publication, the glaring duplicitousness now is contradictory to what was boasted during the 2015 campaign. Then, in seeking votes, APNU/AFC promised many things, including upholding the Constitution and abiding by the rule of law.
From what is currently playing out, it seems those promises were not genuine. In the said context, it appears that the greatest disappointment may not be in coming to grips with some politicians not being believable, but maybe in the public position taken by the President. First, having accepted the impact of the successful passage of the no-confidence motion, he now states that all legal options will be exhausted to possibly disprove it.
While everyone, including the Government, has a right to such options, in this case statesmanship is expected to take precedence in the interest of the welfare of the country, especially when two very credible persons, the Speaker and the Chief Justice, representative of constitutional institutions, pronounced on the matter.
With a full understanding of the potential impact on the country and its people, a President is expected to act above the fray, even if the decision may not be popular with his/her following.
A leader is made and remembered for hard decisions taken in the best interest of the nation. There is still time for the President to rise above his Party’s grab to stay in power and call the election. He can demonstrate astute leadership and tell the nation that he would uphold the Constitution, as enshrined in the oath of office he took. He can announce that, in the best interest of Guyana and Guyanese, he will not continue to pursue the path through the court, and will consult again with the Leader of the Opposition on related matters.
In other words, he must act, since he is not the president of APNU/AFC, but of all of Guyana.