Int’l organisation urges Govt to comply with the Constitution

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The International Center for Democracy (ICD), a nongovernmental advocacy organisation which was launched in 2017, is calling on the Guyana Government to comply with the constitutional provisions and abide by the rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

See statement from the ICD below:

The International Center for Democracy (ICD) believes the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its June 18th ruling and in its consequential orders issued on July 12 spoke clearly, unequivocally, unambiguously concerning the December 21st, 2018 No-Confidence Motion (NCM) in the Guyana Parliament. The CCJ  ruled the NCM was validly passed on December 21st, 2018, the President and the Government of Guyana was required to resign, assuming a caretaker role, holding elections by March 21st, 2019, that is within 90 days, in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana. The CCJ further ruled that the GECOM Chairman arbitrarily appointed by the President was illegal and must demit office and that the President must work in a consensual manner, as prescribed by the Constitution, with the Leader of the Opposition to appoint a new chairman.

The Constitution was very clear what needed to happen when the NCM was passed on December 21st, 2018. The legal system, ending with the CCJ, has affirmed the steps as plainly outlined in the Constitution. Now that the original March 21st deadline has expired, the CCJ has made clear that a new timeline started on June 18th and that the constitutionally established three-months is in place. Further the CCJ established, in accordance with the Constitution, first, the President and the Government must resign and assume the position of a caretaker Government, the caretaker President must dissolve Parliament and must set a date for election, but that date must be on or before September 18th. Second, the President and the Leader of the Opposition must work in a consensual manner to appoint a new GECOM Chair.

These are clear actions and consequents provided for by the Constitution of Guyana. The CCJ rightfully affirmed these obligations, it did not impose these provisions, but ordered the Government to obey the Constitution. Obeying the Constitution is not an option for any Government or any political stakeholder or any citizen, it is the duty of the Government and every one else. When a Government ignores the Constitution and acts contrary to the Constitution, it is not only acting illegally, it is acting as an authoritarian, dictatorial government.

The affront is even more profound and even more dangerous when a government ignores the ruling of the legal system. Thankfully, in Guyana, everyone committed in the NCM cases that the CCJ considered to respect and honor the ruling and the consequences. Now that the CCJ has ruled and made consequential orders, we expect every one, particularly the Government of Guyana, to respect and honor the Constitution, nothing more, nothing less.

The ICD believes if both parties are committed to act with principles and integrity, then a new Chairman of GECOM will be appointed quickly, Parliament will be dissolved and elections held by September 18th. This would be in the interest and welfare of the Nation and the people of Guyana.

It is in this spirit that the ICD urges the Government of Guyana and all others who must play a role to urgently address the provisions for holding elections in the constitutionally-mandated timeline, which is now by September 18th, 2019.

The ICD is concerned that the appointment of a new Chairman of GECOM is now again being a barrier for the timely holding of elections in Guyana. The President in an address to the Nation promised he will act quickly, even insisting he was prepared to make an appointment by Monday July 15th. Yet he has not made any move to meet with the leader of the Opposition. This is troubling because the clock is ticking. We urge the President, in his role as the caretaker President, to convene a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition immediately and for the consensual arrangements be concluded for the appointment of the GECOM Chairman this week. We urge the two leaders to meet every day, even multiple times, to conclude the consensual arrangements. The Leader of the Opposition, both orally and in writing, has committed to such a process. Guyana cannot afford any further delays in this important appointment.

The ICD urges the Government to take its role as a caretaker government responsibly. Its intent to continue  as an “interim” government, continue with cabinet meetings, its refusal to dissolve Parliament, its posture to carry on with business as usual make a mockery of the Constitution and the CCJ. This is not in conformity with the promise to adhere to the CCJ’s rulings and with the Constitution. We urge the Government to reconsider this clearly inimical pathway.

Finally, the ICD urges every stakeholder, including the international community, to speak out and encourage the Government and the Opposition to ensure Guyana remains within the family of democratic nations. Subverting the constitution is not consistent with a democratic nation and, unfortunately, Guyana is on the pathway of total subversion of its Constitution. Voices must be raised to encourage the stakeholders to be faithful to democratic principles and the Constitution.

The ICD, in this regards, urges CARICOM, the ABCE countries, the IDB, the CDB and the World Bank to work together to encourage total compliance with the Constitution of Guyana. A democratic Guyana, with an economy that can benefit enormously from a new Oil and Gas Industry beginning in 2020, can be the model for transforming a developing country. This opportunity can only be squandered by a pathway whereby the Constitution is railroaded. All stakeholders must work diligently to avoid the trajectory Guyana is on at this time.

ICD

July 15, 2019