CCJ Has Ruled – Lawful Way Forward Imperative

Press Release, Guyana Trades Union Congress – 20th July 2019

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) calls for level headedness to prevail in the interpretation of the Consequential Orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Those orders specifically address three areas of focus for resolution on the way forward since the 21st December 2018 no-confidence vote against the APNU+AFC Government was declared validly passed. These are- the Executive, the Legislature/Parliament, and GECOM. The Government and Opposition have accepted the rulings and orders but once again have different interpretation how these should be realised.

The Executive (Government) and Parliament (Legislature)  

The Executive in this current environment has been referred to by the CCJ as having “caretaker” status and advised that in this “role it should be restrained in the use of its legal authority.” There is no precise guideline/limitation on what a “caretaker” government means and what precisely constitutes “restrained in the use of legal authority” suited to our indigenous reality. This is why Government and Opposition must engage to establish the constrains to government functioning during a period like this that will be acceptable to both. It is not for Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo to determine what these must constitute and for the Government to act out of consort for the bonafide concerns of the Opposition.

Further, the CCJ as per its release dated 12th July 2019 ruled “Article 106 is clear and it should be followed.” Article 106, which is titled ‘The Cabinet’ has seven clauses. And whereas Clause 6 says “the Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by a vote of the majority…;” Clause 7 says that “[n]otwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office…and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.” We should all acquaint ourselves and abide with the seven clauses of Article 106 and allow the Government to use its legal authority to conduct the business of this country. Anything outside of this is anarchy.

Both Opposition and Government must go back to Parliament to address Article 106 in its entirety. Respect for the CCJ’s ruling would see adherence to this, what should happen next after a confidence vote is passed, and the fact that litigation was a contributing factor in putting a pause on election being held “within three months.” GTUC is well aware returning to the National Assembly may appear as though one side is losing ground, but this is not about losing ground it is about saving Guyana, utilising law and order.

The nation has gone past the 90 days as prescribed in clause 7 to hold an election, which kicks in the other conditionality of “or such longer period” as to when election can be held. And outside of GECOM, a constitutionally independent body, stating its readiness to holding election, the extant clause requires activation by “resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine.” Government and Opposition must return to the Assembly to give effect to this clause. Why is there no effort to seek a constitutional resolution as instructed by the CCJ as opposed to a political one with the potential for conflict?

This nation can take the example of political patience and respect for the Rule of Law being faithfully exhausted in other societies. Take the United States (U.S) and United Kingdom (U.K) for instance, they are utilising the Judiciary and Legislature to resolve serious differences with President Donald Trump administration, and leaving the European Union as with the UK  As we watch and see the methodical and patient pursuit and execution of the law, why aren’t our politicians learning and adopting these best practices of resolution of conflict. This nation must not be torn apart every time there is political difference and the issue of election comes up.

Election seems to be an opportunity not just to pursue a particular path of development but also to drive wedges between our people. It’s a shame our 21st century politics reflect the backwardness of the 19th century and anti-progressive societies. Gut feelings and passions have their place, but we cannot depend on that in matters relating to governance where the Rule of Law must take precedence.

GECOM

There is no doubt election has to be held. This is not a willy nilly process and it is one that has serious implications for all of us and the way forward.

We remind this nation in 2006 then President Bharrat Jagdeo, himself faced with an electoral process, in an address to the nation said, “The law says that GECOM shall define the form of verification of the list or may decide on verification and will decide on what form it will take. Not the PPP, not the PNC, not any party, GECOM. That’s a constitutional body, independent just like the courts.” Neither the Constitution nor Elections Laws have changed since then. It is therefore an act of serious concern when a different posturing- seeking to dictate and malign personnel and the operations of GECOM- is now being pursued with a bullhorn, misrepresenting GECOM’s processes and the pathway to holding an election.

Similarly, as per CCJ release dated 12th July 2019, “As to the precise orders it should make, the CCJ cautioned, however, that it is not, ‘the role of the Court to establish a date on, or by which, the elections must be held’”.

Clearly, by now society should realise that despite the rhetoric, politicking and misleading statements we have come out of the CCJ empowered with the understanding that the no-confidence motion was validly passed, the process used to appoint the Chairman of GECOM was in violation of the Constitution, and the understanding that according to constitution GECOM is an independent body. Whereas this may not be pleasing to some or a loss to those looking for a different ruling, what is required is that we as a nation allow respect for the Rule of Law and do not interfere with a duly constituted body for election processes.

A peaceful way forward is imperative

Stirring up anger and inflaming passions as a means towards a political end have the potential for serious racial confrontation in this country. We should avoid this at all cause, for there will be no victors only losers. We also leave ourselves vulnerable to external forces. The legal system is obviously working if we allow it to work, if we respect its ruling and if we allow a level of integrity and good will to guide our interpretations.

Both sides must exercise good faith and trust and put together agreed mechanisms how government must function in a caretaker mode. Both sides must return to Parliament and execute their duty consistent with the Constitution. It is a demonstration of good will and willingness to work together to arrive at a mutually satisfying

Both sides operating in good faith will better command respect and trust that they are capable of resolving the current impasse and not sacrificing the well-being of supporters for political gain. They must give leadership and guidance to get out of this political morass with all its potential hazards at this juncture of our growth. Equal onus is on the Leader of the Opposition to be responsible in his use of language and to desist from making misleading statements that will play to those who are vulnerable and easily influenced.

An era that has come to an end whereby if any one group believes that they can govern at the exclusion of any other, with mere token representation to window dress inclusion, that will not be acceptable.  Hence political gamesmanship must not take precedence over wise decision-making in keeping with the Rule of Law.

The GTUC is concerned about those whose only interest is seemingly securing their individual and corporate interests at the expense of the working class. There is no evidence to date of genuine efforts to build on the foundation of creating a political system of inclusion where all can benefit and feel valued.  There is a standstill in development and factoring the needs of diverse communities. The essence of grassroots development is lost to this era of politicians on all sides, replacing it with avaricious and self-serving behaviours.

Say what you will about Cheddie Jagan and Forbes Burnham they had a genuine interest in the development of this nation and its people. We are yet to see 34 years after Burnham’s passing any vision, any development that matches his era. We are yet to see 22 years after Jagan’s passing the willingness to sit and negotiate with his opponent across the table.

6 comments

  • Rickford Burke
    Yesterday at 20:33 ·

    JAGDEO IS PROTESTING FOR ELECTIONS WHILE DELIBERATELY DELAYING THE ELECTION AT THE SAME TIME:
    Guyana’s opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo has refused to submit a list of six names to President David Granger for his appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). This is so because he refuses to comply with the CCJ ruling which mandates him to include on the list names of persons nominated by the government that derived from a consensus. Now he and the PPP have their misguided supporters protesting at GECOM for elections which Jagdeo himself is delaying. There’s a particular perniciousness, evil and hypocrisy that has consumed Jagdeo and the PPP. Actually its the prospect of getting their hanhs on the country’s oil money that has them going crazy. We can understand why. After all, over US $20 billion siphoned off from the treasury under the PPP government from October 1992 to May 2015. That said, let them stand they patooties in the hot sun and protest until they drop. That’s their place. Its their turn to protest. At least no one is shooting at them and gunning them down, or terrorizing them with a 1920s watter cannon, like they did when they were in government.

    21

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  • As I have said elsewhere on this blog, this whole thing is going to end up in civil unrest like it did in the sixties. With the advent of oil, each ethnic group is seeking to control the riches. So for all the increase in GDP it will only take one death on either side on either side to cause total chaos.

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  • @Dr. Lucas

    You maybe correct. We live in a world where all eggs are being placed in the economic basket. It takes more to build a society does it not?

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  • @ David
    You are correct.

    Like

  • PPP not ‘cooperating’ with house to house registration, to file court action

    0

    The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is now urging its supporters to not “cooperate” with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) house to house registration exercise which began Saturday across the country.

    This position was taken by the political opposition less than 24 hours after the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters at protest outside GECOM’s office that the PPP will not encourage its supporters to boycott the activity.

    Jagdeo had said the PPP will cooperate with the registration exercise noting that “we are not going to be caught flat-footed. Our purpose is winning the elections whenever they are called and the PPP is ready for that. We have to follow the process until it stops.”

    But in a video recorded message posted on the party’s Facebook page and sent to the media Saturday, the Opposition Leader said, “We in the party have decided that over this weekend, we will not be cooperating with the activity.”

    He said the PPP will be filing an injunction seeking to stop the process on Monday.

    “We will go to the courts to seek an injunction against this illegal activity which is done in contravention of the order of the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice)…we’ll try to stop the activity,” he noted.

    The Opposition Leader said the PPP has not been formally informed of the process nor was it asked to send scrutineers who are needed to track the activity.

    “We will try to stop this activity through every means possible,” he noted.

    Jagdeo said each form for the registration exercise has to be signed by scrutineers from two parties but the PPP –a major political party—was not informed of the need for scrutineers.

    The PPP also has three nominated commissioners at GECOM.

    The Opposition Leader said his party has briefed the diplomatic community which has since issued statements calling on the Government to honour the Constitution of Guyana.

    The Constitution states that elections should be held within three months after a No-Confidence motion is passed. Given that that deadline expired on March 21 as a result of several court challenges against the motion, President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders in delivering consequential orders on July 12, indirectly said the three months period will begin from June 18 when the final appellate court delivered its ruling validating the motion.

    GECOM in a statement on Friday confirmed that it is moving ahead with the house to house registration exercise – a move that the Government supports.

    The Government has argued that house to house is needed to create a new list of electors which is credible but the PPP has said the list which expired on April 30th can be updated through a Claims and Objections period given the limited timeline for elections.

    The process is being conducted using an order signed by former Chairman of GECOM, Justice (retired) James Patterson on June 11th. It is expected to conclude on October 20th.

    Editor’s note: This story initially stated that the Opposition will be boycotting the process but it has since been amended to reflect the actual words used by the Opposition Leader

    https://newsroom.gy/2019/07/20/ppp-now-boycotting-house-to-house-registration-to-file-court-action/?fbclid=IwAR2KkaIXjfJtsos0Uo6s4K_pngFMz7REr8kdgMrcb5JgV1CUEKq0NcV5B_g

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  • Guyana Trades Union Congress

    Press Release

    22nd July 2019

    GTUC cautions not to sacrifice franchise right, reiterates call for Article 13 to be given life

    The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is concerned with the call made by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo to the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) supporters to boycott GECOM’s house-to-house registration exercise. This action that has the potential to delay and disenfranchise would not be consistent with a call for early election or realising the rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). We remind this nation of the CCJ’s ruling for free, fair and credible election which can only result if the process from the very beginning to the very end is credible. The right to vote, which is the most precious act of every citizen to guarantee his/her participation in having a say in and shaping the development of the country of his/her birth or adoption, is sacred.

    Throughout history and over the world people have fought and died for the right to vote. In Guyana, a waterfront worker named Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, in 1926, along with other Caribbean Labour Leaders put in place a framework to commence the fight for one-man-one-vote (universal adult suffrage). Approximately two decades after, this fight was joined by political leaders such as Dr. Cheddie Jagan and then Mr. Forbes Burnham. The right to vote was not achieved until some twenty-seven years after in 1953.

    The GTUC urges Mr. Jagdeo, the nation’s second premier political leader, to rethink his party’s position of boycotting the exercise lest it be seen as a misguided and reckless act and a further travesty to the nation. It does not bode well for the body politics for the Leader of the Opposition to be seen as calling on citizens to undermine the gains of this society, the strength of the people, and legacy of the PPP and its Founder Leader, Dr. Cheddie Jagan.

    Advising citizens not to participate in the process of registration is a violation of the National Registration Act, Chapter 19:08. Aiding and abetting this violation may also have consequences not limited only to legal. Such encouragement can fuel passions and give rise to confrontation, placing Registration field workers in harm’s way and at risk of violence. Guyana cannot afford to move backward instead of forward in its political life. We must recognise, appreciate, secure, and build on the fights and historical gains of the working class, who are amongst our most vulnerable and must be protected at all times.

    Critchlow, Jagan, Burnham, Desmond Hoyte et al must be turning in their final resting place to see this nation is not evolving from an era of division and non-cooperation. Simple political matters are being made complex and difficult to resolve. The CCJ’s rulings and Consequential Orders are simple and straightforward to follow and implement when egos are set aside. Efforts being made to distort the rulings and orders and the consequences of such are a reminder of the tangle web we weave when we first practice to deceive. As a people we are called upon to proceed in a lawful and orderly manner to resolve the current impasse, failing which there can be dire consequences for this society.

    While the CCJ ruled the GECOM Chairman was not validly appointed, the Court did not rule that decisions taken during his leadership of the Commission are invalid. The people of Guyana are reminded that the nation is facing similar circumstances as with the Charrandass Persaud situation. Even though the then Member of Parliament was not properly seated in the National Assembly the Court did not invalidate decisions he voted on. GECOM Commission during the chairmanship of Justice James Patterson voted to execute a house-to-house registration exercise which the Opposition is against. Unless otherwise determined by GECOM or the Court, GTUC urges every eligible citizen to ensure they are registered to have their names on the Voters List. Failing to do so is at personal risk of disenfranchisement.

    As the nation continues to be divided and distracted with domestic squabbles, opportunistic external forces of all sorts can see this as an opportunity to exploit our vulnerabilities. As the floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) “Liza Destiny” has set sail from Singapore heading to our shores to begin the production and exportation of our oil and gas, the working class and citizens are unsure what are the direct or indirect benefits to be had from the exploitation of these resources. Workers and citizens are desperate, living in hope that our politicians will finally get it right and bring what oil and gas promises to the disadvantaged and vulnerable amongst us-an opportunity for betterment.

    The GTUC, once again, calls on the Government and Opposition to come together with other national stakeholders, consistent with Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution. This would allow to chart a way forward in securing a system of governance that would include all in the decision-making and allow equitable distribution of the national pie. The trade union movement having initiated and participated as a leading voice in the struggle for the right to vote is now advancing the argument that having achieved one-man-one-vote, whereas election is the building block on which government stands, that is not all there is to social justice. Governing is not all about election. Governing is about the quality- good governance and social justice. The GTUC remains committed to the ideal of improving the lives of the working class through good governance and social justice. This is further attainable through Article 13 which we shall continue our advocacy for.

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