Lincoln Lewis berated for pushing dictatorship

Lincoln Lewis

Trade unionist Lincoln Lewis has already begun to face immense backlash for recent comments he made advocating for a dictatorship in Guyana.

Apart from being condemned for his irresponsible statements, calls for him to he sanctioned have also ensued.

Lewis made the comments during a radio programme with host Mark Benschop, who insisted that Granger was “above the Constitution”, since he was an Executive President.

Lewis in response took the position that caretaker President David Granger can “take action” against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) if the Commission continues to insist on declaring the results of the recount.

His remarks were quickly condemned by the PPP/C, which, in an invited comment, said any attempt to flout the Constitution by Granger will have serious consequences.

The PPP/C added that Granger has no power to take action against GECOM, which is a constitutional body, while noting that it is obligated to declare the elections based on the recount figures.

Further, the PPP/C related that the current situation is already tense and if the caretaker President insists on going ahead as advised by Lewis, then he was creating room for future Presidents to follow suit, and to trample on the rule of law and the Constitution.

As such, the Opposition is calling for personal sanctions against Lewis and others who are continuously pushing the country towards a return to PNC dictatorship.

Bharrat Jagdeo, PPP’s General Secretary

Lewis, the President of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union (GB&GWU), had  appeared on Benschop’s programme on Monday night, speaking about his expectations for GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, who is awaiting a decision of the Court of Appeal on the status on the recount results in order to declare a winner of the March 2 elections.

His expectations include that the Chair can withhold her vote from the six-member partisan Commission if the declaration of the results comes to a vote. He then outrageously suggested that President Granger can intervene in the work of GECOM if it “fails the people of the country.”

“The Constitution spoke about a President. And that President has Executive responsibilities and duties. And the President has to look on this country and look at what is taking place. He has a responsibility to ensure that peace and tranquillity run through every sector of this country,” Lewis said.

“And if the Elections Commission’s actions are inimical to the interest and intent of the Constitution and the ethos of this country, then he will have to take action. Whatever form it is. We can’t have an election that is marred with discrepancies, that we consider as rigged… Mr Granger will have to take action, if the Elections Commission fails the people of the country.”

Commenting on the matter, former presidential adviser Ramon Gaskin was critical of the implication contained in Lewis’s utterances.

“If GECOM uses the recount to declare the winner, they will be operating in keeping with the decision of the CCJ. And if they do that, the candidate of the PPP/C will be declared the President. And President Granger will have to demit office. That’s how it’s done in Guyana.”

Ramon Gaskin

“The last time GECOM declared President Granger as the President, the PPP/C, (former President) Donald Ramotar and all of them, demitted office quietly. So, to say the President will have to take action, I don’t know what he’s saying.”

Article 163 of the Constitution of Guyana grants the High Court the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the legality of an election, through an election petition. Everyone, from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to the High Court to the GECOM Chair herself, has elaborated that this is the only recourse open for APNU/AFC to register its concerns regarding the election. Gaskin also referenced Article 163.

“The Constitution provides for that. They have to go to the High Court. But to say that the President can take action against GECOM if he doesn’t like the decision, that would be improper. If he was to take action against them, it would be unconstitutional. There’s nothing in the Constitution that allows the President to take action against GECOM.”

“A lot of this is foolish talk. We have to get over it. Get these elections declared. It’s nearly five months. To say the President can take action is entirely irresponsible. They have to file an election petition,” Gaskin said.

Also weighing in was Opposition GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj who said Lewis is seeking to mislead the public on several grounds since Granger has no power to cancel this or any other elections.

Further, he said the recount exercise is not Granger’s recount but one that was commissioned, executed and concluded by GECOM, acting pursuant to decisions of GECOM.

Gunraj explained that the genesis of the recount was to solve the quagmire which resulted from the illegalities committed by Mingo in his two declarations.

Sase Gunraj, GECOM Commissioner. [File Photo]
In addition, he said the intent of the recount and the ambit thereof had to be and was in fact governed by law and as a consequence, the outcome and results of the recount are in keeping with the law.

More importantly, Gunraj said the conduct and outcome of the recount has been judicially pronounced upon by the highest court, that is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which has ruled in favor of the recount and has notably struck down the use of the fraudulent results by Lowenfield.

“Therefore, Lewis is attempting to mislead and confuse the public by advocating positions that have no basis in law and by arrogating power unto Granger which he does not have,” he asserted.