Earlier this year, this column featured two articles that addressed the notion of political instability. It was posited that political instability is when a country experiences politically motivated violence and/or crimes in society, violent protests, workers going on strikes and so forth. Political instability is also defined as the propensity of a government collapse and when growth is significantly lower than otherwise. Poor economic performance, however, may lead to a government collapse and political unrest. That being said, there was a time in Guyana when there was political instability – a period characterised as politically motivated crimes and riots in the city, etc.
Notwithstanding that, if one were to consider a few political scenarios; namely the unprecedented event surrounding the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the uproar by several commentators and the political Opposition regarding the appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission’s chairmanship, the deadlock regarding the appointment of substantive judicial appointments; these events, one can argue, do constitute some degree of political instability. But in order for these events to lead to a full blown politically unstable environment – largely depends upon how the people and the political Opposition react to these circumstances. So far, as it relates to the nine thousand plus sacked sugar workers – they have remained quite calm and engaged in only peaceful protests so far.
Similarly, such is the reaction to all the other referenced politically controversial matters, as there has been no extraordinary reaction to these instances by the people and the political Opposition in a manner that may destabilise the economy. However, this is not to say that should the economy continue its contractionary trajectory – of poor economic performance in the short- and medium-term, political instability may not prevail. At the same time, though, such may be an unlikely outcome with the growing optimism and overly exaggerated hope that are being conveyed to the people of Guyana with first oil in 2020.
Now, the aforementioned opening paragraphs were simply restated ‘verbatim’ from the referenced earlier articles. Having said that, in the context of the recent outcome of the No-confidence Motion wherein the Government has virtually fallen; this columnist is cautious to forewarn that a situation of real political instability is hovering in Guyana should the Government not respect the outcome therein. Such a situation would not be healthy for Guyana’s economic and political climate at this time – especially with the ongoing matter surrounding the Guyana/Venezuela border and as the country is gearing up to become an oil producing nation in just over a year’s time.
This position is premised against the backdrop of what is seemingly unfolding on the part of the Government – symptoms suggesting that they may challenge the outcome of the No-confidence Motion that was carried successfully against them by actively considering and contemplating to pursue a number of legal tactics. Should this happen, there will definitely be political instability in early 2019 on a very serious note. If the Government is confident as it claims, then they should not hesitate going back to the polls by March 2019.
In this light, it is perhaps noteworthy to mention too that this author had noted with interest a prominent lawyer is now arguing that for the No-confidence Motion to be valid, it needed at least 34 votes in favour and 31 against rather than 33 in favour and 32 against. Whether this argument has any legal merit, it is for the court of law to decide but this would also mean that everything else – that is, all the other bills that have been passed in the Parliament with a one seat majority (33-32) are also null and void and illegal. Could it be that this is what the learned lawyer is implying as well? Or is it a case wherein this is aimed at provoking political instability in the country to a greater or lesser degree or is it motivated by some other unknown reason (s)?
On this note, mathematically it is a matter of interpretation. The Constitution explicitly states that “the Cabinet, including the President, shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.” The key word here is majority and majority literally means the greater number. So the greater number out of 65 is 33 and the lesser 32 (33+32 = 65).
Finally, as the year 2018 comes to an end tomorrow, this author wishes to take this opportunity to wish all our political leaders and politicians, and to all of the Guyanese people very best wishes for 2019. And, collectively let us avert a situation of political and economic instability as the country should focus its energy on preparing for a free, fair and peaceful general elections by March 2019. Happy New Year!