By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues – Birkett has accused British High Commissioner Andrew Ayre of being “unkind” following warnings on Monday that Guyana could face sanctions for breach of the Commonwealth Charter if the current state of prorogation persists much longer and steps are not taken to resume Parliament.
In responding to inquiries of the likely sanctions for Guyana during a press conference on Monday, Janaury 12, Ayre referred to countries that had significant breaches to the Commonwealth Charter; reminding of the suspension of Fiji and Zimbabwe.
“Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth for a period of time. I’m glad to say it is now back in the family of the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe remains outside because of breaches that would have taken place there,” he told Reporters.
To this end, Rodrigues – Birkett took to her Facebook page saying that if “the British High Commissioner has indeed compared Guyana’s situation with what took place in Fiji some time ago, then he is absolutely off the mark and being unkind to my dear country.”
She went on to add that “President Ramotar did not commit an illegality.”
She defended her government’s decision to prorogue Parliament; saying President Ramotar acted in keeping with the Constitution.
The Minister said too that Guyana has already alerted the Commonwealth that it will be requesting an observer Mission, for upcoming elections for which the President is expected to announce a date soon.
“The High Commissioner cannot be so unaware.”
President Ramotar prorogued Guyana’s Parliament on November 10, 2014; saying it was to facilitate dialogue between the Executive and the Parliamentary Opposition. On the same day he prorogued Parliament, the Opposition had signaled its intention to commence debate on a No – Confidence Motion it had brought against the administration.
“Ironically prorogation is the legacy of the British and there must have been a good reason for it. Or is it that some can use it and others can’t?” Rodrigues -Birkett questioned.
She observed too that the threat of sanctions from the High Commissioner is not new.
“That very threat was made regarding Local Government Elections. Yet when a date by which the elections was slated to be held was announced by President Ramotar, it appeared no longer important enough to encourage the other parties to work together to see it materialize. That threat was also not that veiled when Guyana voted a particular way on an issue at the UN. Of course we were vindicated on the latter with recent developments.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister did not stop there but went on to point out that “… Fiji has had elections which was declared free and fair. They have solved their own problems (at least some of it) with the help of Governments who were willing to be part of the solution. I am happy that those Governments did not use the carrot and stick approach. An approach that in my opinion has never worked. Yet small developing countries have to always remind themselves of this type of colonization that continues even as we try to consolidate our traditional relationships while forming alliances with like minded States in order to raise our standard of development.”
Ayre told Reporters that the prorogation of Guyana’s Parliament “was a dangerous path… a functioning democracy matters not just to fulfill the obligations of the constitution, charters or declarations. It matters because development depends on it.”