Dear Editor/News Editor,
I am a member of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Council and a member of the Governance & Security Sub-Committee. I have been intimately involved in all of the Press Statements made by the Sub- Committee in relation to the passing of the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.
I have, therefore, decided to write expressing my growing concern at the repeated and totally specious attacks on the accuracy of the Statements and on the credibility of the Commission by Mr. Rickford Burke. Mr. Burke resides safely in the USA and, of course, bears no responsibility for, nor does he suffer, the consequences in Guyana for anything he says or writes.
I remember Mr. Burke, when I was a member of the Cabinet, as a young enthusiastic but radical extremist member of the PNC. Age, it seems, has neither tempered his extremism nor given him the wisdom of reason.
In fact, our country faces extremely severe consequences as a result of our government’s persistence in ignoring the Constitutional requirement which followed the event of a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly on 21st December, 2018.
In fact, our President has placed his government in a position of grievously violating the Constitutional provisions of Articles 106 (6) and has signaled a similar intention with regard to Article 106 (7) to function outside of the country’s supreme law which he swore to uphold.
I have had a long and valued friendship with David Granger before his election as President and I have continued to hold the highest regard and respect for him, but find his government’s behaviour, with regard to the effect of the no-confidence motion respecting his Cabinet and government, unacceptable. The PSC, whose responsibility it is to speak for the stability and well-being of the business community and for the maintenance of the rule of law in the country, is perfectly within its mandate to defend a respect for the Constitution. Equally, the PSC’s mandate is to insist on adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law by all of the political parties, whether in or out of government.
The PSC’s statements hold no political partiality. They are strictly confined to fact. They embrace no brief for nor opposition to any political party. The Commission’s statements do, however, quite properly, confront the reality of the very serious economic, political and social consequences for Guyana arising from the government ignoring the Constitution and behaving outside of the law.
It is a fact that the no-confidence vote remains valid, as recognized by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Bartland Scotland, and ruled on by the Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire.
It is a fact that Cabinet is resigned along with the President as head of the Cabinet as required by the Constitution and as was confirmed by the ruling of the Chief Justice.
It is a fact that all the Members of Parliament serving as Ministers who hold dual citizenship must now resign their portfolios and cease to function as Ministers, as, indeed, must all dual citizens currently in the National Assembly, from all the political parties, resign from being members of the Assembly.
It is a fact that the President and his Ministers, excluding those of dual citizenship, remain in office until 21st March, 2019, but may no longer function as a Cabinet and only until within the period mandated by the Constitution.
It is a fact that Article 106 (7) of the Constitution requires elections to be held no later than 21st March, 2019, unless a two thirds majority vote of the Assembly extends that date. It is a fact that this Constitutional imposition is not delayed by any appeal filed against the ruling of the Chief Justice.
It is a fact that the President and his government, through the Attorney General, have the right to appeal the ruling of the High Court but, it is also a fact that the rulings of the High Court remain in place and active and that the President and government must, by law, act as so ruled unless overruled by a higher Court.
It is a fact that GECOM, under the law, as is required by the Constitution, must be prepared to hold a General Election whenever it is due and specifically prescribed by the Constitution.
It is a fact that GECOM, including the Chief Elections Officer, judged from their own public statements and those of the government, have failed in their constitutional duty to prepare for the holding of elections by 21st March, 2019.
I have stated the facts conveyed in the Press Releases by the Private Sector Commission of 31st January and 4th February, 2019. All, therefore, that the PSC has stated is that the President and his government must respect the Constitution and respect the law and that GECOM must observe, respect and act in accordance with the Constitution.