IAC urges Govt to respect Constitution, call date for elections

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The Indian Action Committee (IAC) today (Tuesday), urged the APNU/AFC coalition government that, in the interest of democracy, to discontinue its “disregard for constitutional provisions” and to announce a date for the long overdue General and Regional Elections following the passage of the No-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

The IAC in a press release, moments ago, stated that, in light of the decisions and consequential orders of the CCJ, it is of the firm opinion that the government, in a caretaker capacity, has failed to act within the confines as directed to have the elections held by September 18, 2019; three-month timeline following the June 2019 ruling that quashed the Appeal court’s decision on the no-confidence vote.

“With no constitutional two-thirds majority Parliamentary approval to extend that deadline, with the elections appearing nowhere closer to be held and with Parliament yet to be dissolved on or before September 18, 2019, the legitimacy of the APNU/AFC coalition government after that date, therefore becomes questionable and its continuance in office deemed unconstitutional”, the statement added.

The IAC said it remains hopeful that “our hard-won democracy will be safeguarded, the constitution adhered to, and the current situation be resolved expeditiously”.

Following is the full statement by the IAC

The Indian Action Committee (IAC) remains cognizant of the following: –

  1. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s highest arbitrary court, in June 2019, upheld the validity of the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion (NCM), thus reversing the split decision of the Appeal Court.
  1. That the valid passing NCM automatically triggered Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana which 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.”
  1. The valid passage of the NCM also automatically triggered Article 106 (7) of the Constitution which states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three (3) months, or such 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.
  1. The IAC also recognizes that constitutional three-month timeframe for the holding of elections after the NCM, elapsed as of March 21, 2019, a period during which the Coalition Government’s approached the courts.

The IAC, in light of the decisions and consequential orders of the CCJ, is of the firm opinion that the government, in a caretaker capacity, has failed to act within the confines as directed to have the elections held by September 18, 2019; three-month timeline following the June 2019 ruling that quashed the Appeal court’s decision.

With no constitutional two-thirds majority Parliamentary approval to extend that deadline, with the elections appearing nowhere closer to be held and with Parliament yet to be dissolved on or before September 18, 2019, the legitimacy of the APNU/AFC coalition government after that date, therefore becomes questionable and its continuance in office deemed unconstitutional.

The IAC remains firm that if the APNU/AFC caretaker government continues to disregard the constitution thereby bringing our country into disrepute, it will join with other civil society organizations to bring attention internationally in the defense of our hard-fought democracy.

The IAC is not unmindful of APNU/AFC coalition caretaker government’s abdication of its responsibility of setting an election date to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), whose Secretariat proposed a timeline of March 2020; a year and three months after the passage of the NCM and a year after the constitutional period expired.

The IAC therefore urges the APNU/AFC coalition government that, in the interest of democracy, to discontinue its disregard for constitutional provisions and to announce a date for these overdue elections. It also urges GECOM to begin preparations for the holding of free and fair elections which must be held within the shortest possible time.

The IAC is also mindful of the effects the prevailing uncertainty and how it continues to impact Guyana and Guyanese. Given our country’s troubled history of past elections, any prolonging of the announcement of an election date, more especially when the government is deemed unconstitutional, is not in the best interest of this country and its people.

The IAC remains hopeful that our hard-won democracy will be safeguarded, the constitution adhered to, and the current situation be resolved expeditiously.

The IAC also calls upon all Guyanese citizen, political parties, the religious bodies, NGOs, trade unions, civil society and the independent media to raise their voices in the call for the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to be respected in the context of peace, harmony, justice, and national unity.