…made it clear presidential respect has to be earned
While declaring that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) does not have any respect for President David Granger for a number of valid reasons, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said that his party has the highest regard for the position and the Office of the President.
Jagdeo told a news conference on Wednesday that the PPP has lost respect for President Granger, mainly due to his many so-called broken promises, wasteful spending of taxpayers’ dollars and his blatant disregard for the office, the Constitution and the rule of law.
“We do respect the institution of the presidency but not the person who holds that office now,” Jagdeo declared, stating that the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) after rejecting his 18 nominees is one bold example.
According to Jagdeo, presidential respect has to be earned and not taken for granted. Granger, he claimed, “loves” pomp, protocol and ceremony “but doesn’t like scrutiny”. “We will treat him with respect once he complies with the Constitution and laws,” the Opposition Leader asserted.
The former Head of State also defended the action of the PPP/Civic MPs in Parliament at the last sitting where they held up placards and chanted in opposition of the Government. Although several Government Ministers had referred to them as “vulgarians,” Jagdeo said the current Government has behaved worse.
And while the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland is yet to pronounce on the action, at the next sitting on November 17, 2017, Jagdeo believes that the Speaker might have approved of the action in the House because he did not identify any breach of the standing orders.
“The Speaker might have agreed with our position because I did not see the Speaker intervene and tell us that we were breaking the standing orders,” the Opposition Leader said. He added that Opposition Members of Parliament were not prepared to be lectured by the Speaker nor the President.
Jagdeo claimed that the actions taken by the now coalition Government both in and out of office has always been highly controversial. “In contemporary history, the numerous instances of the worst display of lack of civility in politics… it was a [People’s National Congress] PNC-led group that invaded… led a mob that invaded the compound of the Office of the President, broke down the gate, came into the building and as a result of which some people were shot and killed. What about that for respect of the presidency?”
Jagdeo also recalled that burning of buildings in Georgetown led by the same group that also threatened business people. “What about the people who were beaten on the streets by the same group that talks about civility in politics now,” he added.
Further, Jagdeo said while the Government has claimed that the Opposition disrespected the intentional community because of their protest in and out of the public building, he said these same groups that were again PNC-inspired displayed the highest level of vulgarity on several national day’s events.
He recalled that he was addressing the crowd at the National Park on Republic Day and couldn’t hear himself because it was the vilest form of protest on display.
“What about the respect for the international community at that time? Many of them were there in their full presence. Many said to me that they had to walk through a gauntlet of taunts and the vilest remarks thrown at them by the same people who are now lecturing us,” he claimed.
Jagdeo went on to state that the PPP exercised the best display of civility even though they felt that the 2015 elections were rigged. With a difference of 4500 votes between parties, Jagdeo said his party accepted the results. He said, “You didn’t see a single building burn. We accepted the results and we’re now in Opposition struggling to retake power in Guyana.”
By contrast, he urged Guyanese to examine the history of Government, not ancient history, but between 1997 and 2001 when the international community certified that the elections were free and fair. “When the difference was close to 30,000 they still refused to accept the results, they burnt the city and beat people up. What about the respect for the international community at that time?”
He also referred to United States President Jimmy Carter’s book ‘Beyond the White House’ where he said that the most personal danger he felt since leaving the White House was in Guyana in 1992, because of the ruckus created by these groups that were allegedly politically motivated by the PNC.
Jagdeo also highlighted Granger’s no promised jobs for youths, spending of more than $100 million on Escalade and Toyota Crown vehicles and the laying off of thousands of sugar workers of different race and political persuasions. “I can go on now and list the vulgarities in the country…one hundred times more vulgar than the PPP holding up a few placards in the Parliament,” he said.
The Opposition maintains that the action taken by the Opposition in Parliament was a robust expression of dissatisfaction with this illegal unconstitutional act by the President.