The statements emanating from President Granger on this 2017 Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) issue is nothing but superficial and extremely uninformed. Why does he continue to expose himself to such low-quality legal advice?
In this new era of accountability, full transparent from politicians is demanded at all times.
In 2017, hardly a day goes by when we are not treated to another variant of how the GECOM Chairman should be appointed in the daily media. It is pervasive as it is obstinate. Both sides think they are correct and too few are really recognising this nation is paying a heavy price because of the low-quality legal expertise that continues to guide the judgement of President Granger.
This nation pays a Judiciary to interpret the rule of law, including the Constitution. The Legislative make the law and the Executive enforces it. Guyana has had a long and painful struggle to arrive at the seismic changes achieved in 1992. Electoral policies such as counting the ballots at the place of poll and the cessation of overseas and postal voting brought this country back from the brink as a pariah state. After 1992, donkeys and horses in the fields of Manchester and Jamaican in Council Flats of Birmingham lost their privilege to automatically vote for the People’s National Congress in Guyana’s elections. Never again must we succumb to such fraud.
But the most revolutionary change that happened in 1992 was a reformation of the process behind how the Chairman of GECOM is appointed. Prior to 1991, the GECOM (called something else then) Chairman was appointed by the President in a framework that was steeped in autocracy. The Leader of the Opposition was literally consulted in a factitious manner. President Hoyte, who came under severe pressures from our friends in the ABC countries and a generation of local and international struggles led then by President Jagan who was the Leader of the Opposition, allowed for the commencement of the process to reform our electoral systems in 1990.
As an outcome from those dialogues between Team Hoyte and Team Jagan with the Carter Center and the local civil society acting as arbiters, Hoyte agreed to ask the Legislature to change the laws around the process of how the Chairman was appointed. Ahead of the 1992 elections, the process allowed Jagan as the then Leader of the Opposition to submit a list of eligible names to Hoyte from which the name Rudy Collins was selected by Hoyte from Jagan’s list to be the Chairman. For those who do not know Collins, he was an international diplomat, not a judge or former judge or someone who had the qualification, training or experience to be a judge. He was deemed by Hoyte to be “fit and proper”.
Fast-forward to the case in front of the Honourable Chief Justice Madam Roxanne George, one can find all sorts of opinions that can be undulating in nature but to date, no one has seen the written judicial pronouncements. Thus, my grave disappointment in the infantile and premature comments attributable to President Granger on this issue in the media. If he in unhappy with the ruling of the Chief Justice, the system provide the latitude for him to appeal that decision.
President Granger must understand that he is making decisions for 18-35-year-olds also and if he is perceived to be one who is willing to illegally not enforce the written rulings of the courts, then he must not complain when society descends into a crime infested harem of law breaking activities. By his own actions he is seen to be giving the green light to the present and future generation of lawbreakers to disregard the ruling of the courts.
I pen this letter in full support of the principle that we must respect our judicial system, even if we disagree with their written judgement. We must as a people also recommit to the separation of powers between the Judiciary, Executive and Legislative. The Legislative makes the law, the Executive enforces it and the Judiciary interprets it. These are three distinct branches of a functional Government in a democratic society.
Sase Singh, MSc –