The clock never stopped ticking – British High Commissioner
…urges Guyanese to hold elected officials accountable
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn on Monday reminded that the clock has never stopped ticking on the constitutionally-mandated elections which is due on March 21, 2019.
The High Commissioner reiterated his position that the Constitution is the supreme law of Guyana. He was at the time speaking at the 129th Annual General Meeting of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) at the Duke Lodge, Georgetown.
Speaking frankly on the subject of the No-Confidence Motion which was passed on December 21, 2018, Quinn said, “It is not, however, my role to interpret that Constitution. But what I will say is that the clock is ticking following the no-confidence vote in December. A legal process is ongoing, I recognise that, but that clock has not been stayed. I, therefore, urge, indeed implore, the political leadership of this country to get together and agree [on] a constitutional way forward”.
He added that it is imperative that this happens, pointing out that if no way forward is found, then there will be a further and more harmful impact on business and investment in Guyana. “All political parties have a responsibility to act honestly and truthfully and to act for the betterment of every citizen – not their own pockets or to their own narrow interests. Politicians need to put the people first,” the High Commissioner said.
He added that voters also have a responsibility to hold their elected officials to account for what they have done or are doing and not to “blindly follow one party because that has been what the family has always done. It is time to look to whomever has the best policies and best plans,” High Commissioner Quinn added.
On Wednesday, new US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch also re-reiterated the need for free and fair polls.
In brief remarks after handing over her credentials to President David Granger on Wednesday morning at the Ministry of the Presidency, Ambassador Lynch, without making mention of the current political impasse, pointed to the need for free and fair elections.
Abide and respect the Constitution
Since the December 21, 2018, passage of the motion of no-confidence against the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change coalition, calls have been made by various stakeholders including foreign diplomats here for the Government to abide and respect the Constitution and set a date for elections.
The foreign missions here have been paying keen attention to the developments in Guyana since the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) filed the No-confidence Motion against the Government.
On Monday last, British High Commissioner Quinn in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times said, “the Constitution is the supreme law… There is the three-month clock, which is still ticking, it hasn’t been stayed yet…,”
Moreover, representatives from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have also echoed similar calls for the Guyana Government to adhere to the Constitution.
In February, the EU’s local mission warned of the need for constitutional compliance, urging in a statement that democratic procedures and the rule of law be respected and upheld. The EU also called for free and fair elections to be held and for the Guyana Government to follow all requirements outlined in the Constitution of Guyana following the December 21, 2018, no-confidence vote.
Days before, however, United Nations Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka urged the State to demonstrate its integrity and respect Guyana’s Constitution.
“Recent political developments triggered by the no-confidence vote in the National Assembly are a test for Guyana’s strength and integrity with regard to the effectiveness of the rule of law and governance,” Tanaka said.
She further lauded acting Chief Justice Roxanne George for demonstrating the independence and integrity of the Judiciary when it comes to protecting the Constitution of Guyana.
The acting Chief Justice had ruled on January 31, 2019, that the No-confidence Motion was validly passed 33-32 in the National Assembly and the Cabinet has to resign in keeping with constitutional provisions of Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) respectively.
Consequent to the declaration that the 33-majority meant that the motion was carried, Justice George observed that the President and the Ministers could not, therefore, remain in Government in accordance with Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution after three months.
However, the Granger-led Administration has insisted that there is no role for a “caretaker” Government and that they will continue to be in office until a new President is sworn in. In fact, the coalition has appealed the High Court’s rulings and those matters are currently being heard in the Court of Appeal.
But even as the coalition continues with its ‘business as usual’ approach, political commentator and Attorney Christopher Ram last week asked the High Court to stop the award and payments of contracts over $15 million.