APNU+AFC was shell-shocked after inviting the PPP/C Opposition to “bring it on,” that is, the no confidence motion. ‘Bassady’ by the head blow of the Charrandass Persaud’s supportive vote of the NCM, they unsteadily promised to comply with the Constitution and hold elections in three months. Then reality stepped in. Somebody discovered the fiction that the human body of a parliamentarian could not be divided in half and that the majority of 65 was really 34. Most Guyanese would have disagreed with the notion that a parliamentarian would not be willing to have his/her body divided in half. We are all aware of the patriotic displays by parliamentarians on both sides of the House during Sittings. Quite often the Speaker has to intervene in exasperation to quell raucous nationalistic fervor. As it turned out, the sacrifice was unnecessary as history repeated itself. From Mustique in 1985, to Herdmanston in 1998, to the CCJ in 2019, Caricom and its agencies have consistently rescued the PNC/PNCR/APNU, or enabled it to rescue itself. And the international community’s fit of conscience about Guyana in the early 1990s has clearly not survived.

There is no mystery about article 106 of the Constitution. In 1999-2000 the PPP/C appeared to be firmly ensconced in office. The traffic of MPs across the floor had historically been only one way, from the PPP to the PNC. With this in mind, supporters of the then Opposition PNCR and their allies felt that if they were able to encourage that traffic to continue, and they were able to acquire the support of a majority of the members of the National Assembly, the PPP/C Government might not have been willing to observe the convention and resign on a successful no confidence motion or decisive defeat. Hence article 106. The provision requiring the Cabinet to resign was obviously inserted to enforce the caretaker status after a no confidence vote. PPP/C Governments had refused to recognize the existence of such a convention, hence its enshrinement.

Elections in March 2020, after a no confidence motion in December 2019, mandating elections in three months, is an intolerable constitutional travesty. The date will no doubt drift down to May 2020, when the life of the Government comes to its natural end, so that Bharrat Jagdeo and Charandass Persaud will get the message that their ‘shenanigans’ and ‘treachery’ did not work now and will not work in the future. And they must be contemplating that the future for them looks dim, with applicants for work permits and citizenships being assured by high officials that their applications are being processed.

The Chair of Gecom has adopted the strategy of compromise between the parties, splitting the difference in half. This is what the most recent compromise means. The ruling that the new and old lists be merged in an apparent effort to satisfy the Government members of the Commission has, not surprisingly, shifted the election date to March 2020. Gecom staff presumably has to input and ‘merge’ the names of the new registrants. At some point in time, they have to search for and remove duplicates. With 370,000+ names having been registered, there will be hundreds of thousands of duplicates. These have to be eliminated. Quite likely, this effort at compromise will necessitate more under the threat of gridlock, now that the threat has been seen to work, and will shift the election date further and further down the year. At the current estimated date of March, only two more months are needed for the Government’s five-year anniversary, by which time all those seeking citizenship will probably have their applications granted. The APNU+AFC has triumphed. But no one has yet worked out how they will persuade Bharrat Jagdeo to support an extension of the National Assembly until March 2020. Or doesn’t anyone care?

In fact, in the 25 years since the current Gecom was established, it has worked assidulously to develop its capacity to deliver credible elections and could have delivered credible elections by March 21 having recently completed local government elections. But having alighted on a delay strategy, a new house to house registration was invoked as the measure to drive the strategy. Gecom has been elevated to the arbiter of the election date with successive governments deferring to it. Gecom is not an arbiter but an instrument of the Constitution, required to be ready at all times to conduct elections when the executive so decides. With the billions of dollars that have been spent on Gecom, it has now attained that capacity. No executive need await Gecom’s permission to fix an election date. And with a future, restructured, Gecom, comprised of civil society members, it will be removed from the arena of political conflict.

A new constitutional principle has taken root in Guyana. It is called constitutional convenience, having displaced constitutional supremacy. It goes like this: Where a constitutional provision is required to be implemented within a specific time frame, such implementation will only be given effect to within the said time frame if it is convenient to do so. Guyanese and courts will rue the day that they allowed, tolerated or facilitated this travesty in Guyana. It will return to haunt us.

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  1. Mr. Ramkarran.

    This nation has to ask itself, first and foremost, how or why did the PNC get its fingers on the reins of this country after showing it’s incompetence for twenty eight years from 1964 to 1992.

    Given it’s sordid past of illegal regime status brought on by rigging of elections, incompetence, the ruination of Guyana’s economy with the consequential branding as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere second only to Haiti, this transformation of the PNC from opposition to Government was facilitated by one person in the PPP, Bharat Jagdeo.

    The PPP acquired Government status in 1992 through free and fair elections and immediately commenced the transformation of the economy and infrastructure under the management of Cheddie Jagan.

    Since Jagdeo took over the reins of the PPP he began his behaviour as if he owned the PPP and Guyana. It still begs the question why is he still being allowed to call the shots in that political party, and it is evidenced in his choice of Irfaan Ali as Presidential candidate. We all knew for sure that was going to happen when he took Ali on a “walk about” in Georgetown the day after the NCV, as he (Jagdeo) could not run for a third term.

    Ali, as we all are aware, is a man who is still to answer questions as regards his academic qualifications and his actions while a Minister in the PPP Govt. Imagine having such a person as President of our country. It seems that dishonesty, and it’s perception, is being entrenched as everyday goes by in Guyana. The consequence of this will be the “laughing stock” image that will be stamped on Guyana if the PPP wins the upcoming general election.

    Think about this, would the PNC have won the election in 2015 if the AFC did not merge with them? The answer to that is a resounding no, as everyone is aware of!

    This happened as a result of direct “bad” treatment by Jagdeo of Ramjattan and Nagamootoo. As you are aware, Jagdeo deemed anyone who would speak out about the corruption infesting his Govt. as enemies of the PPP with the only purpose of getting rid of any push back from within his circle. As a result he was the architect of the PPP’s demise as a Govt. and indeed the coming to being of the AFC. His actions are indeed reminiscent of Cheddie Jagan’s ouster of Balram Singh Rai from the PPP because he spoke out about the imbalance of the security forces. You yourself was a victim of that man’s(Jagdeo’s) venom, everyone is aware.

    Supporters of the PPP and PNC should understand that there is an alternative to those two parties and give their country a fighting chance in our world. We need, not only the PNC but also the PPP, to be sent a clear message that the time for change is now, as I feel very strongly that the time has come for us, the people of Guyana of every ethnic background, to take the reins of power away from these two political parties.

    With Bharat Jagdeo as “chief cook and bottle washer” in the PPP that political party is destined to remain in the dump, and the sooner it’s supporters come to that realisation and turn their support over to another new political entity enmasse, the interests of Guyana will continue to have a bleak outlook and so will their well being.

  2. Maybe now the supporters of the PPP will realise how Bharat Jagdeo has bungled their future going back as far as 2011!

  3. Again, a commentary to stimulate the grey matter between the ears.
    The Secretariat of GECOM has clearly demonstrated its absolute incompetence. Some may prefer to say, justifiably, partisanship.
    As I have said time and time again, GECOM was OBLIGATED to initiate its systems to conduct CREDIBLE (a word suddenly finding much relevance, by those who were EXPERTS in conducting blatantly RIGGED elections) national and Regional elections, SINCE the TABLING of the No Confidence Motion, in NOVEMBER, 2018, as it had no way of determining how that vote would have gone. No amount of “pussyfooting”, shifting of dates, attempts at collusion with those who are NOW afraid to bring it on” (Elections), initiation of activities totally unnecessary to conduct CREDIBLE elections, and other glaring subterfuges to “change the goal posts” can absolve GECOM.
    My prediction is that Elections would be held in AUGUST, 2020 as the Constitution, I think, states something to the effect that elections are due, three months after the fifth anniversary of the last held ones (May, 2015 to August, 2020).
    The Constitution in this regard would be scrupulously adhered to by those now trampling it.
    I would suggested, instead of fragmented opposition, there should be a broad based movement, of all patriotic organizations and individuals to demonstrate, not only to the Government, but to Regional and International entities and States, that Guyanese are not prepared to tolerate further “ eye pass”.
    Just my two cents.

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