…says Guyana could come under scrutiny for not upholding Constitution
By Samuel Sukhnandan
Now that both Government and the Opposition through President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have met to discuss the way forward on the no-confidence resolution, and have agreed to ask the court to expedite the court proceedings, Guyanese diplomat and academic, Sir Ronald Sanders says the Court must act quickly to approve the request of both parties.
In an interview with this media group on Wednesday, Sir Sanders said there is nothing wrong with going to court to seek a solution to the current problem facing the country, as it relates to the no-confidence resolution, but it must be understood that it is a matter of grave national importance.
As such, he said based on the situation and given what is at stake, the court must pronounce on these matters in the shortest possible time. “No more than one week, because every day the court delays this matter, the political tension and anxiety grows and that is not a good thing,” he opined.
Sir Sanders asserted that the court should not delay justice but should seek to make both a fair judgement and within a considerable time. He reminded that the court cannot change the Constitution, but only interpret it by law. “And that should not take any competent court a lengthy time to do,” he added.
In cementing his argument, the Guyana-born diplomat said the country’s future is at stake and nothing should allow the supreme law to be vilified. He noted that the political and economic future of Guyana is also at stake, if this issue it not addressed soon, it could have several negative implications.
While nothing is set in stone based on the meeting between the two parties based on the holding of elections, Sir Sanders emphasised the need for all involved to arrive at a mature political position which puts the interest and economy of Guyana before narrow political considerations.
“This is not a time, in Guyana’s history, when it is on the cusp of becoming the wealthiest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and when it is faced with a hostile neighbour, Venezuela, for there to be any evidence of disunity and division in the Guyanese nation,” Sir Sanders explained.
According to him, there are many who will seek to exploit the political differences in Guyana for their own benefit. He said it is therefore in Guyana’s best interest to put aside political considerations and differences, in favour of a politically negotiated solution to this current problem.
However, Sir Sanders who is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and to the Organisation of American States (OAS); and also non-resident High Commissioner to Canada for Antigua and Barbuda, said that the basis of the issue facing Guyana has to do with constitutionality.
“And that has a great importance in terms of Guyana’s membership with the OAS and the United Nations, where the issue of constitutionality has come to the fore in recent years. It is why for instance for the present time, countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras and even Guatemala, are under scrutiny for not following the constitutional process,” he said, pointing out that Guyana could head there if this matter is not addressed fairly and within the provisions that are available.
In commenting on the vote that took place in Parliament on December 21, 2018 which saw the toppling of the coalition Government, Sir Sanders said the Guyana Constitution appears to be clear that if there is a no-confidence vote, the Government falls, and an election are to be held in 90 days.
As a practical matter, he said because of some issues, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) may not be fully prepared as it may have otherwise been had it been 2020; but negotiation for an extension could only be determined by way of negotiation between the President and the Opposition Leader.
However, he said this does not take away from the fact that elections should by all means be held within the 90 days as stipulated in the Constitution. “It cannot be longer than the 90 days and it has to be agreed to, if there is any extension. That is the constitutional position of other countries which are aid donors, friends… that would expect the Government and the Opposition to move in this direction.”
Again, Sir Sanders urged that both Granger and Jagdeo put the Guyanese people’s interest first.
He said, “The people of Guyana are the people who must decide this matter. And the best way to end this constitutional impasse is to put the question to the people of Guyana in an election and the sooner that happens the better. If both sides believe they are popular, they shouldn’t be afraid to go to an election.”