Today has the potential of becoming a very significant day in the nation’s history. An extremely important meeting is scheduled between the President and the Leader of the Opposition; the first since the No-confidence Motion brought against the Government was voted upon and carried in the National Assembly.
The immediate process such a successful motion triggers, as enshrined in the Constitution, is yet to be implemented by the Government. Instead, it has sought recourse in the courts to have the motion squashed after failing to have the Speaker reverse his ruling. Legal experts have since raised concerns over the jurisdiction of the courts in such matters given that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and is pellucid on the requisite process.
The meeting in question comes almost three weeks after the motion was carried and the President’s subsequent public announcement that his Government will adhere to the constitutional process. To date, there has been no sign of any attempt to uphold the Constitution as stated with fresh elections mandated within three months.
After the absurd theory that 34 and not 33 is the “new” majority mooted by a staunch Government supporter, large sums have and continue to be spent on a public relations campaign by the Administration to condition minds for acceptance. Leading officials are seen pushing this ludicrousness argument even as the Speaker upheld that 33 votes carried the motion and the President’s announcement to abide.
Those looking at the Government’s efforts of using the media at the expense of taxpayers to convince of flawed Mathematics and an imposed unconstitutionality, cannot be oblivious of the desperation that exudes. Surely they cannot avoid feeling a sense of embarrassment to watch elected officials who are learned men and women clutch at straws to hold on to power. That embarrassment has not escaped the country as the world watches.
If the argument of 34 being the majority is absurd, then the other of dual citizenship bringing doubts of illegality of the vote, is even worse. To put into perspective, the Government is arguing that the vote by former Member of Parliament (MP), Charrandas Persaud, may not be valid due to his dual citizenship. From what has been reported, Persaud may have attained that status before becoming an MP. More so, it’s the said Government that placed him in Parliament to represent it. In other words, they put him there, more than likely knowing his status, and are now complaining.
If, by their argument, his vote on the No-confidence Motion is invalid, then the obvious question is, how could all of his previous votes, including the majority of one needed to pass five budgets, be valid. This adds fodder to the embarrassment brought upon the country despite the unambiguous related articles in the Constitution. One former Caribbean leader has voiced concern over the impact the current impasse can have beyond the shores of Guyana, not the least, internal.
The court case and public pronouncements by officials, including a Vice President who boldly proclaimed that the Government will not resign, can only be interpreted as desperate measures not only to hold on to power, but to totally disregard the Constitution. This is where the Head of State is expected to intervene to avoid a contravention of the nation’s supreme law in its interest and that of the people. There have been calls from society for him to do just that.
At a brunch held a few days ago, the President is reported to have urged the media corps to honour their obligation to social responsibility, for them to be professional and practice self-regulation. He even posited that those who do not conform to the value and standards must be sanctioned by their peers.
That is most interesting, for as he makes known his expectations of the media, his Government is still to honour its obligation to social responsibility with regard to upholding the Constitution following the successful passage of the No-confidence Motion, it is still to be professional subsequent to the vote and some officials are not practicing self-regulation as evident from their public utterances.
Just as how he can urge the media, he can rein in his subjects and swiftly bring to an end the charade his Government is currently engaged in. In doing so, he will not only appear professional, but will demonstrate unambiguously that he is the President for all and not just for the parties within his coalition. That is the expectation of the nation that wants the Constitution to be respected.
That is why the meeting today becomes significant. If he were to do what is dictated by the Constitution, he would be sending a strong message of disagreement with his subordinates in an act of statesmanship to safeguard democracy, the interest of the country and Guyanese. If he were to do otherwise, he would not only officially join the ongoing charade, but would inflict a telling blow to democracy and the rule of law. Guyana and the rest of the world eagerly wait on how significant the day would be.