There was never any doubt over Guyana’s vast potential. There was never any doubt that if the potential is unlocked and prudently managed, tremendous benefits would redound to all Guyanese. There was never any doubt that unlocking the vast potential would catapult the country to a regional economic powerhouse. There was never any doubt that Guyana can truly become the breadbasket of the Caribbean.
There is also no doubt that the APNU/AFC coalition government is deliberately misinterpreting the Constitution and the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to avoid elections. There is no doubt that in the process, the Government has created a constitutional crisis for its gratification. What’s in doubt, is a swift resolution of the current political situation.
In essence, there is some doubt around the country, and rational Guyanese continue to bemoan the current situation while calling out the Government for demonstrating blatant disregard for the CCJ’s decisions.
The Government seems duplicitous. On one hand, it is not giving into constitutional processes, thereby, entrenching itself. On the other, it boasts of abiding by the Constitution and the orders of the CCJ. Many have branded the latter as lip-service, and even an insult to intelligence, given the Government’s ongoing lack of adherence to the rule of law.
One glaring case in point is the continual meetings of the Cabinet and subsequent bold proclamations made. From listening to officials, one can be convinced that the CCJ never ruled on the related cases— business as usual for Government at a time when it’s not business as usual.
That, in many ways, underscores Government’s unsubtle intention to operate as if the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion (NCM) was a figment of everyone else’s imagination. That could, therefore, make it even more difficult for a swift resolution to the current situation.
The harsh reality is that the Government, by its own actions, seems to have no interest in a solution that should have been implemented months ago. Since then, it has done little to remove any doubt of its propensity to ignore the rule of law and to remain in office. In doing so, it increases the potential of unnecessarily placing the country at risk for possible international sanctions.
Some donor countries have not hesitated to impose such in the past when convinced that democracy is being trampled upon. Such actions can result in a withholding of much-needed financial support and imposed economic and other sanctions. It will adversely affect the country and its people as investments and the economy come into the line of fire.
The Opposition has even cited the same as an option it could possibly call for as part of its efforts to make the government accountable. If that were to be realised, then the blame must be placed squarely at the feet of the APNU/AFC government, given its ongoing propensity for self-interest while ignoring constitutional and democratic processes.
Had it, as it said it would, abided by the constitutional process that must be followed in the event of a valid NCM, the current political stalemate would have been avoided. By simply conforming to the enshrined democratic process, Guyanese would have been spared the psychological trauma inflicted by the current and seemingly unending uncertainties and from the prevailing fear of a growing dictatorship.
This fear is driven by polarising and defiant utterances by government officials— some of whom seem dismissive of the Constitution and the CCJ ruling. The President, himself, can be accused of arrogating the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution solely upon himself and twisting the related language for his convenience. In doing so, he may have dispelled any doubt of him being the major driving force in trying to avoiding the holding of the constitutionally-due elections.
Therefore, the perceived absence of recourse becomes frightening. What is also a cause for concern, is the militarisation of the Government since 2015. Former Chiefs of Staff and other high-ranking officials of the army have been placed in various strategic positions within the government structure. This is aside from Police officials including a former Commissioner.
The concern may not lie in capacity, but in the historical context of the reported roles of the army and Police in aiding and abetting electoral rigging in support of the undemocratic PNC government which ended in 1992. Unfortunately, today, that historic and current relationship with the PNC and the security forces is stoking fear in many.
Just a few days ago, an arm of the State media reported a 75% increase in the army’s budget under the APNU/AFC government— within just four years. While such recapitalisation may be necessary and nothing prevents the appointment of security officials to government positions, the context should not be dismissed having taking into consideration the perception it precipitates. The doubts could, therefore, linger and even grow.
Today, there is blatant defiance of the Constitution as there was of democracy by the PNC in the past. With that, and other actions under the APNU/AFC government, it becomes difficult to doubt its intention. Noteworthy, some have never doubted that actions speak louder than words.