Opinion by Ramesh Persaud
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission of Guyana Limited
The political construct we currently have in Guyana with a Minority Government and Majority Opposition in the National Assembly is being interpreted by some stakeholders as a mere accident caused by voter apathy on the side of the ruling party and on the other side seen as the will of the people in rejecting the policiesand actions of a Government in power for 20 years.
Whatever the reason for the political dispensation delivered to us as a country in the free and fair General Elections of November 2011, the 10th parliament has revealed the many limitations and loopholes in the governance architecture of Guyana and the Constitution of Guyana.
The construct of the 10th parliament can be argued by some as resulting in the most un-productive parliament we have had since our independence in 1966 while others will argue that the 10th parliament was the most revealing and participative parliament we had in our recent history as the opposition benches were given some relevance after 45 years of being in minority as just spectators to the events that unfold.
The legacy of the 10th parliament can go down as one that caused the greatest disruption to Guyana’s modern development or as one that triggered the greatest reformation that will guarantee the protection of the rights of all Guyanese and the sustainable development of our country for the next 200 years and beyond.
The 10th parliament has caused our constitution to be tested in many unchartered areas and have been found wanting, lacking and insufficient to protect all stakeholders. For example, while the prorogation of parliament is the Constitutional right of the President, its appropriateness and use in the context where the Head of State and Head of Government is the same is a cause for concern and its object questionable. Similar arguments can be put forward with regards to the use and object of the No Confidence Motion.
The Constitution of Guyana which is the supreme law of the land is not perfect and may never be, but without significant reforms to what currently exist, it can be dangerous in the hands of any improper leadership either present or elected in the future. As such, any solution arrived at in the short term cannot be deemed acceptable unless it involves significant reformation of our Governance Systems and Processes through Constitutional Reform. This is why it is important for a national dialogue to commence and be supported by independent local and international facilitators. The agreements from the dialogue must result in actions for development of all the people of Guyana.
Such a dialogue and reformation is called for as it is uncertain at this time whether elections alone will solve the major governance problems we face as a country. Election is only one of many pillars in a democratic society.
Considerations should be given by all stakeholders as to what Guyana will be like if another Minority or Majority Government is elected with the same powers under the current constitution.
I call on all our leaders for us to start the process of reformation however painful it will be.