UK envoy reiterates call to respect Guyana’s Constitution
As time runs out…
With the parliamentary Opposition requesting that the international community withhold recognition from the coalition Government after the March 21, 2019 deadline passes without elections being held, the United Kingdom’s envoy to Guyana is hopeful for a timely resolution to the situation.
Gregory Quinn was at the time being interviewed on Friday on the side-lines of an event at his residence, with less than a week to go before the three-month deadline expires. According to UK High Commissioner Quinn, it is actually too early to conclusively say what the British Government’s next move would be when the election deadline passes.
“I think it’s too early to talk about that. I think we’re not there yet. There is a process that is ongoing, an ongoing discussion between the President and the Leader of the Opposition. So I think we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said.
The High Commissioner related that at the moment he is hopeful that there would be a resolution to the political stalemate. But he noted that if the worst does come to pass, the United Kingdom still has to have relations with the country.
“It’s important to remember we recognise countries, not governments. I am accredited to the country of Guyana, not the President. Former President Donald Ramotar was there when I first arrived. So, obviously, we would have to maintain a relationship with the country of Guyana if we ever get into that situation,” he declared.
This is the second time for the week that the British diplomat is calling for a resolution to the issue as he urged respect for Guyana’s Constitution.
During a press conference on Thursday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo revealed that letters were dispatched to various members of the international community, calling for countries not to recognise the Government beyond March 21, if there is no extension of the elections timeline.
Since Government was defeated by a no-confidence motion in December of last year, which should have triggered early elections, it has sought recourse through the courts. In fact, the Court of Appeal is expected to rule on the no-confidence matters before it any day now.
Calls have repeatedly been made by various stakeholders, including foreign diplomats based in Guyana, for the Government to abide by the Constitution. It is understood that even former United States President Jimmy Carter has become involved in the matter, seeking to hold discussions with both sides.
Earlier this week, British High Commissioner Quinn, in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, reminded that the clock is ticking on the constitutional three months’ deadline for holding elections. This deadline expires next Thursday.
Additionally, representatives from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have echoed similar calls in February for the Guyana Government to adhere to the Constitution.
Article 106 (6) of the Guyana Constitution states: “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.”
Article 106 (7) goes on to state, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
So far, there has been no word on when a sitting of the National Assembly would be called to seek an extension. When asked at a previous press conference, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, had informed the media that there must be pressing issues for the National Assembly to be called. When asked if elections were not a pressing matter, he conceded that it was.