President requests meeting with Opposition Leader on CCJ ruling

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Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo meets with President David Granger. [File Photo]

…meeting designed to influence CCJ’s consequential orders – Political analyst

In the wake of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling that the Government was indeed dethroned by a No Confidence Motion last year, President David Granger has requested a meeting with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

The letter was penned by Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, on the President’s behalf. In the letter, Harmon conveys the president’s best wishes and asks that they meet to discuss the political ramifications of the CCJ ruling.

While the letter does not specify a date and time to meet, it does say that the meeting has to be after Monday, June 24. On June 24, the CCJ will be handing down the consequential orders that follow the CCJ ruling that the No confidence motion was passed.

Other consequential orders will relate to the appointment of Guyana Elections Commission Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson. The CCJ had found that Patterson’s appointment was flawed and in breach of the Constitution. The court also ruled that the President ought to have given the Opposition leader an explanation as to why consecutive lists of nominees for the position of GECOM Chairman were being rejected.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

However, suspicious of the meeting four days after the ruling, a local political analysis told this publication that the meeting seemed to be designed to influence the court as to president’s “reasonableness and respect” for the judgement but his utterances and those of his ministers tell a different story.

On Tuesday last, the CCJ ruled that the No confidence motion of December 21, 2019 was validly passed against the government. It also ruled that Alliance For Change defector Charandass Persaud was entitled to vote against his party list and that even as a dual citizen, his vote was still valid.

Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”

Meanwhile, Article 106 (7) states that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”

Duplicity

Rather than issue its consequential orders out of hand, the CCJ had given each sides an opportunity to come together and come up with a way forward of their own. But while Jagdeo has called for elections in two to three months as the only principled but practical way forward, President Granger has maintained that house to house registration must be done- a process likely to delay elections even more than they are already delayed.

Analysts have posited that the President’s invitation to Jagdeo may be part of a ploy that would give the CCJ the impression that he is open to dialogue and working with the parliamentary opposition.

This is especially so as over the past few days, government officials have made statements that defied the CCJ rulings and even the CCJ’s jurisdiction in Guyana… even though Guyana has recognized the court as its final appeals court since 2005.

Caribbean Court of Justice

The first such statements were made by Finance Minister Winston Jordan. According to Jordan, the coalition government is not prepared to call elections unless House to House registration is carried out regardless of what the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) or anyone says.

Jordan made this statement during a government outreach in Bartica on Tuesday last, in the presence of several other Ministers of government. At the time, Jordan also rallied coalition supporters to protest if necessary, for House to House registration. This is despite the fact that this exercise is likely to further delay elections that were constitutionally due since March 21 of this year.

“Comrades, be on the ready! Because we will be able to call you out to picket for house to house registration. No registration, no elections! There’s no fixing no list that is 650,000 people out of 730,000. What kind of math’s is that?”

“The list cannot be fixed! It cannot be tinkered with. And CCJ or no CCJ, they can’t tell us that we must tinker with that list to call an improper election. Elections must be free, fair and proper,” he said.