Some readers might find it is interesting, while others might find it appalling to learn that throughout its existence, Caricom has selectively remained silent on the political plights of Guyana. While from time to time, individual leaders have broken their silence and spoken out against the Burnham-Hoyte-led Governments, such utterances have been far apart. Interestingly, they found their collective voice in the wake of post-1997 elections unrests.
However, questions have arisen as to the true motive of this odd potpourri of leaders who are yet to dance in unison, to send the ‘three wise men’ to Guyana. The team had brokered, among other conditions, an unconstitutional shortened term of office for President Janet Jagan, vis-a-vis the Herdmanston Accord. Guyanese are now left to ponder Caricom’s muteness despite numerous calls across the media and by leaders in light of the current political and legal quagmires.
Clearly, Mr Granger and his APNU/AFC Administration have continued to poke fun at the CCJ. The ‘cat and mouse’ game continues as Granger speaks with a forked tongue. On one hand, he says he is committed to upholding the decisions and orders of the CCJ; on the other, he has not only defied those very orders, but has attempted to reinterpret and write his own orders.
With regards to the appointment of the GECOM Chair, he has insisted on submitting a list of names in what he referred to as integral to his active participation in the consensus-dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition. Similarly, he stated that he has accepted his caretaker or interim Government role but refused to accept the resulting constitutional and CCJ-reinforced limitations on such a role.
Further, the GECOM proposed House-to-House Registration is yet another clear defiance of the CCJ orders. The CCJ concluded that the process that led to Patterson’s appointment was flawed, and, therefore, unlawful. Patterson’s subsequent resignation is a testimony to his acceptance of the decision/order.
It follows, therefore, that many of Patterson’s decisions as Chair of GECOM were flawed/unlawful. However, while we cannot rollback those that have been acted upon due to completion or time-lapse, we must put a halt on all those proposed/future actions, with House-to-House Registration being at the core. GECOM is also in defiance of the CCJ orders which stated that it should be ready for elections by September 18.
Meanwhile, Caricom remains selectively mute. Their tight-lipped posture may not only signal acquiescence of Granger and his Administration’s flouting of the CCJ, but may also torpedo the CCJ’s future as the court of last resort for the entire region.
Critics and supporters alike understood that the CCJ represents a manifestation of aspirations to promote the building of ethical legal processes by fostering due process and the rule of law, among other ideals. Today, this very Court, born out of a collective desire to concretise self-determination, national and regional politics, economic integration, and human rights obligations, is being severely undermined by Granger and his Administration.
In a nutshell, Caricom must, out of necessity, step off the fence. Regional leaders cannot continue to be mute; through conscience-viagra, they must voice their disapproval of Ganger and his Administration’s blatant disregard for the CCJ. Granger’s ‘cat and mouse game’ snubs the CCJ, defies logic and signals a political degenerative process. These actions clearly contravene the democratic goals and ideals of Guyana and the region as a whole; they derail national and regional progress and prosperity, and ultimately, the rights and well-being of the people. Caricom, it’s time to shift your paradigm!
(Barrister and Solicitor)