There has been, in Guyana, an eruption of a political tornado that is attributed to PNCR Leader Mr David Granger. Having been in hiding, as portrayed by many of his supporters, Mr Granger came out swinging. First, he boldly challenged the constitutional principle of free speech when he filed whopping $(G)2.6 billion defamation lawsuits against Kit Nascimento and mainstream media. It is noteworthy that this suit was filed after Granger had been receiving blistering attacks from disgruntled supporters.
Granger next launched a subtle attack on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) by advocating a reduced role of the Court (CCJ) in Guyana’s election matters.
Granger has recently been signalling to his supporters and others that he is a new man who is fired with a new vision that could still transform the Guyana political landscape.
Granger had previously allowed APNU+AFC Parliamentary Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon to take the lead in almost every matter of national significance, but has recently decided to curb that process by re-taking a major part of the leadership initiative.
He has begun to launch a few political salvos, hoping that those would crush his political adversaries and critics. But would this approach be enough to appease the disgruntled PNCR supporters?
New York PNCR’s Rickford Burke notes, “I’m persuaded that he’s [Granger] oblivious of his unpropitiousness or is completely delusional.” Burke also called upon Granger to step down. Next, a group of ten ex-army officers in New York demanded that Granger immediately resign as leader. “It is time for Mr Granger and his self-appointed surrogate leader to exit the political scene and be replaced by a more progressive and young leadership.” And on Monday May 17, 2021, a New York PNCR group also expressed their displeasure. “As members of the PNCR groups in the New York Diaspora, we have all felt betrayed by a wobbly and inept leadership…”
But while Granger may not be smart politically (having been described as a political dunce by Burke), he (Granger) is a crafty person in some respects. Notwithstanding the barrage of attacks, Granger, in an effort to salvage his political career and legacy, has quickly moved to neutralise those harsh criticisms, and has been trying valiantly to divert attention from his leadership woes onto the role of the CCJ in the election process. He is playing to many of his supporters who share a similar view on “foreign interference” in Guyana’s electoral process.
Granger and cohorts blame the CCJ for contributing to their loss of political power in 2020. Accordingly, Granger turns to the Caribbean CoA for comfort, and speaks well about its competence. “The Court of Appeal was competent to rule…on electoral matters inside of Guyana…I do not think there is need for foreign intervention. The level of foreign influence in the period [March-August 2020] was phenomenal.”
Yet, on another matter, his deputy, Joseph Harmon, asked Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad & Tobago to intervene in Guyana’s affairs to save the country from what they call PPPC “dictatorship.”
There have been frequent references also that the CCJ, as a CARICOM institution, has only 4 Caribbean countries as members (Guyana, Belize, Barbados, Dominica). The logical question being: “Why have Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (where the CCJ sits) not yet become members of the CCJ? While one cannot answer this question at this time, it should be noted that these countries do have access to an Appellate Court outside of their respective countries in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, UK.
Why does Granger want to restrict a major CCJ role on electoral review? When the High Court and the CoA of Guyana ruled that Dr Bharrat Jagdeo could run for a third term as Presidential Candidate, the CCJ ruled against Jagdeo, a decision applauded by Granger and cohorts. If that matter had ended at the Guyana CoA, Jagdeo would have been the PPPC Presidential Candidate in 2020.
Granger defied the constitution and unilaterally appointed Justice James Patterson as GECOM chair. That decision was upheld by the Guyana High Court and the CoA, but was overturned by the CCJ, a decision that infuriated the PNCR. Had it not gone to the CCJ, Patterson’s appointment would have stood as constitutional.
Then came the No Confidence Motion (NCM), which Granger’s government lost but refused to step down, and argued that 34 is a majority of a 65 seat Assembly. If that matter did not go to the CCJ for resolution, it would have meant that 34, as a majority, is constitutional. And the CoA’s decision would not only have perverted justice, but would have also shaken the foundation of mathematics. And let us not forget that had the CoA been the court of last resort, that body would have likely accepted the tainted Mingo/Lowenfield election results and declared the APNU+AFC the winner of the elections.
Granger tried exceptionally hard to seize victory from the PPPC, and would have probably succeeded had it not been for the CCJ, which ruled on the constitutionality of the elections results and process. No wonder Granger and cohorts do not have a good perspective on the CCJ, especially relative to election matters.
About Granger’s struggle to retain political power, Dr Vishnu Bisram reported that the PNCR made three unsuccessful attempts (post March 2, 2020) to install him (Granger) as President, despite knowing from their SoPs that they had lost the 2020 elections.
Though Granger has created a political stir with his recent outbursts, it is doubtful whether his diversionary tactics would mitigate his disgruntled supporters’ hostility towards his leadership style. Those supporters are concerned about his aloofness; his elitism; and, above all, his failed attempt to seize political power. This feeling is reminiscent of how a segment of PNCR supporters felt when Desmond Hoyte lost political power in 1992. Granger’s rationale for advocating for the CoA to be the court of last resort in election matters is woefully inadequate and is couched in hidden meanings.
Dr Tara Singh