Press Release submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress (19th June 2019)
CCJ’s Consequential Order requires citizens uniting to hold politicians accountable to a higher political order and love of country- not just power
The fundamentals of our democracy and regional integration stand strong in the decisions handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Tuesday 18th June. The rulings- ‘no-confidence’ motion and appointment of GECOM chairman-of the CCJ is a signal that the integrity of our judicial system in Guyana and the Caribbean can be relied on to adjudicate disputes in any environment of partisanship and polarisation. This is important in a context that notwithstanding the many questions and aspersions made about the integrity of the system Guyana and CARICOM states can be proud today.
Respecting due process
The Caribbean through Guyana has set an example of how political conflicts can be resolved through the judicial process. A process that requires trust, confidence and belief that the judiciary is the final arbiter on interpretation of the laws and the guardian of same.
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is heartened that notwithstanding vocal acceptance or rejection of the High Court or Appeal Court’s rulings on the given issues, due process allowed the various stages of our judicial system to be rightfully granted all parties involved. The Government, Opposition and all society are bound by the rulings of the CCJ and neither party can today claim they were denied due process and equal access to this branch of government and finally to the CCJ. This is the fundamentals of our democracy reflected in the adherence to Rights and the Rule of Law. This is indicative of what good governance is all about.
Right to legal justice
But even as we mark this achievement let us recognise that it came only after many were believed to be figuratively kicking and screaming through the entire process, seeking after political responses and satisfaction (political justice) that presented risks of deeper chasms, with domestic and regional instability as opposed to a more rational and acceptable judicial pursuit that reinforces the rights of all, confidence in this arm of government and the separation of powers therein. It came notwithstanding the belief and projected comments that Government was holding onto power and amidst calls for them to step down even as they sought to defend their belief and right to pursue judicial settlement. This was a right that could easily have been denied had they bowed to pressure leaving many uncertain as to whether they were cheated out of government.
Peace through legal justice
Guyana and the Region have won. GTUC reiterates the call made on 21st December 2018, when the Parliamentary vote was considered passed, that this is not a time for triumphalism or opportunity to create ethnic tension and divisions in society. The only victors here are all Guyanese and our branches of government that were allowed to deliberate consistent with the role of each. If we act contrary, likewise the victims will be all Guyanese and our branches of government, an untenable situation that will not serve the collective well. Let us claim victory as a nation. Peace, law and order and our judicial system remains intact. Together we must now build bridges to deepen our democracy and safeguard our nation for all Guyanese.
Building bridges and forging unity
We have to move forward based on the rulings and we must do so in an environment of mutual respect, consistent with the systems and recommendations that would guide our behaviour and steer the ship of state. GTUC reiterates its call to the Government and Opposition to meet and chart a way forward as to how government will function consistent with Article 106(7) of the Guyana Constitution. Management of the state is a day-to-day activity, failing which anarchy prevails. We call on the media and all Guyanese to rise to the challenge of building a better Guyana.
One with more tolerance and respect for the rights and rule of law; for all to be held accountable to these fundamental and universal principles of good governance; respect for the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of each to pursue legal justice which distinguishes us on the continuum of civilisation and political maturity. It is now time for our political leaders, supported by all stakeholders, to come together in determining the way forward as we continue to test and charter new waters. We must have a better Guyana for all.
We are reminded that there remains no convention or written guidelines how the society ought to function in a post “confidence” (no-confidence) environment. This the political parties must equally turn their attention to as matter of urgency. All of the political operatives over the years have been calling on citizens to put Guyana first. This is the time the GTUC calls on the politicians to demonstrate leadership that puts Guyana first. There can be no hesitation, no reluctance, no refusal or political showmanship to delay the arrival at a position of satisfaction to all sides that would best serve this country by ensuring inclusion of all and the protection of rights.
The parties return to the CCJ on June 24th to address the Consequential Order. We must go there with a plan as to how the country will proceed, in the interim and after the elections, consistent with Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution. It would be unfortunate to have the CCJ imposing on us what we are capable of determining. It would be an insult to our forebears who came together to fight common enemies and build Guyana. It would cast a dark cloud on our ability to unite for the common good and leave us vulnerable to internal and external destabilising influences. The jury is out now on the ability of Guyanese citizens to unite and hold the politicians of this country accountable to a higher order of politics and love of country not just power. In a democracy granting the power is ours to give, ours to influence and ours to deny.