Why Did Opposition Leader Block Justice Cummings Appointment as Chief Justice?

Acting CJ Roxane George-Wiltshire and Acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards

Dear Editor:

Enough of the shenanigans: The Bar Association should ask the Opposition Leader why he blocked the appointment of Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards as substantive Chief Justice?

The March 10, 2018 edition of the Kaieteur Newspaper published an article captioned “Pressure mounts for appointments of Chancellor, CJ – Bar Association endorses Cummings-Edwards in top judiciary post.” This article stated, inter alia, “Treasurer of the Bar Association, Attorney-at-law Devendra Kissoon, in introducing the acting Chancellor, said she is a fiercely independent official. The lawyer urged that she and current acting Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire, two “wonderful persons” be confirmed. The introduction was met with a standing ovation.”

It is unfortunate that the acrimony and partisan politics that besiege the constitutional process of appointing a Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice contaminated this important professional forum, which I’m sure was intended to be nonpartisan. Some participants clandestinely rushed to the Kaieteur newspapers to disparage a specific presenter – the young, Afro-Guyanese female deputy dean of the law school of the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Their disparagement evidently inspired the March 11, 2018 Kaieteur editorial which questioned her competency. The source of the scathing editorial is plain as day to me.

The ensuing rancor; disrespect alleged by the Attorney General and the conveyance of a political message to the President through a pretentious endorsement of the acting Chancellor, demonstrate why concurrent training of judicial officers and members of the bar, who practice before the said judiciary, is problematic; let alone the injudicious political posturing by some executive members of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA). This dilemma validates the position that such unorthodox circumstances should be avoided by an entity that is obligated to political neutrality.

I am, nonetheless, delighted that Mr. Kissoon has concluded that the character, professional qualifications and judicial temperament of Justice Yonnette Communings-Edwards, render her distinctly eligible to be appointed substantive Chancellor. This is my stated, unequivocal view. The government’s decision otherwise does not evince political perspicacity or strategic logic. The quandary suggests, therefore, that the status quo is the resolution.

I wish, however, that Mr. Kission and fellow GBA executives had sent this memo to Opposition Leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, who rejected Justice Cummings-Edwards’ nomination to be substantive Chief Justice. Consequently, Mr. Kissoon must inform the nation if he or the executive leadership of the GBA, on whose behalf he spoke, has chastised the Opposition Leader for rejecting the Eminent Madam Justice’s nomination to be substantive Chief Justice and whether they have asked Mr. Jagdeo for his reason for blocking the elevation of an Afro-Guyanese woman justice, who according to Mr. Kissoon, is a “wonderful” nominee?

The persons responsible for appointing our two highest judicial officers are the President and Opposition Leader – an abysmal arrangement that underscores the need for constitutional reform. The judiciary is too important to be the political football of two individuals. I believe this responsibility should be vested in the executive and legislatives branches, and not the President and Opposition Leader. The two are now equally responsible for the inherited, unacceptable constitutional quagmire that has damaged the judiciary and rendered the appointment process ineffectual.

While the GBA launched a partisan attack on the President for the breakdown, its actions have calculatedly absolved Mr. Jagdeo from responsibility. This partisan posture has tainted the association, and effectively portrays it as a tool of the political opposition. This is why the GBA must advise the nation of its position on Mr. Jagdeo’s rejection of Justice Cummings-Edwards’ nomination, whether it requested an explanation from Mr. Jagdeo and what is his stated reason. GBA members should not be allowed to get away with bludgeoning the President to disclose his reasons for rejected the Opposition Leader’s list of nominees but intentionally declining to ask the Opposition Leader why he rejected the President’s nomination of Justice Cummings-Edwards.

Your sincerely,

Rickford Burke


Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

Guyana Prime Minister to kick-off 50th Independence Celebration in New York

Submitted by Rickford Burke



Contact: Nevlon Duguid, Director of Communications

Tel: (862) 224-9697. Email: nevlonduguid@gmail.com

NEW YORK CITY: Guyana’s Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, will on Saturday, January 16, 2016 launch his nation’s 50th Independence celebration in New York. […] Continue reading

Guyanese Leaders Refute Misleading Statements by WIADCA’s President

Submitted by the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)
Labour Day on Eastern Parkway

Labour Day on Eastern Parkway

NEW YORK: In an interview with Mr. Irwin Clair, on Irie Jam Radio, 93.1 FM on Tuesday, August 4, Mr. Thomas Bailey, President of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA),

made several misleading statements regarding the allegations […] Continue reading

National Unity and Modernity: Priorities For Guyana’s New Coalition Government

Commentary Part II: by Rickford Burke

National Unity and modernity: Priorities For Guyana’s New Coalition Government

Rickford Burke, CGID President

Rickford Burke, CGID President

Change has come to Guyana. The nation has put the dark era of the PPP domination behind. Diligent exercise of the franchise has secured the election of President David Granger and his A Partnership Continue reading

Good Riddance to Guyana’s Former PPP Regime

Submitted by Rickford Burke

Good Riddance! The PPP’s demise has inspired a renaissance of national pride and cemented a determination to unite, rebuild and develop Guyana

Part I

Grainger and Romotar

Grainger and Romotar

On May 11, 2015, the Guyanese electorate decisively voted the Continue reading

Roger Khan May Testify Against Former US Senator John Sampson

Submitted by Errol Harry

Shaheed “Roger” Khan and Victor Bourne are just a few in a rogues gallery of possible witnesses whose stories or testimony will feature in the upcoming trial of Brooklyn State Sen. John Sampson. Sampson, the former Democratic leader of the Senate, is accused of obstructing justice, witness and evidence tampering and lying to an FBI agent. His trial is expected to begin June 22 in Brooklyn federal court. Continue reading

Caribbean Leaders Silent on Guyana Elections

Donya Francis

Donya Francis

Where were they when what happened in St Kitts-Nevis took place in Guyana? By Donya L. Francis a 24 year from St Kitts-Nevis, presently studying in Taiwan- (Journalism and Mass Communication)

I am writing on behalf of the youths and the Kittitians and Nevisians who have similar questions. What happened in Guyana after the elections? Where were the results? Is this going to be a trend that the Caribbean will be following?

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Team Guyana USA Soccer League Urges Guyanese Soccer Players and Fans to Boycott Caribbean Cup Inc, Soccer Tournaments


BROOKLYN: Team Guyana USA Soccer League announces its complete withdrawal from Caribbean Cup Inc., (CCI) as well as from its tournaments, structure and activities. This action is in protest of overt discrimination against, and abuse of, Guyanese players and management. Team Guyana will no longer participate in CCI’s annual soccer tournaments at the Thomas Jefferson High School Field at Flatlands Avenue and Essex Street, Brooklyn.

Consequently, we call on all Guyanese soccer players and fans to, henceforth, boycott all Caribbean Cup tournaments and games, until another transparent, fair and professional tournament is established, which the League can sanction.

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According to the US Government the Criminal Was in Bharrat Jagdeo’s Cabinet

Submitted by Rickford Burke

On March 31, 2014, the Kaieteur Newspaper in an article captioned ‘Police note PPP speakers comments on Crum-Ewing murder’ reported that “Former President Jagdeo suggested that Crum-Ewing might have been killed to boost the opposition elections campaign.”

The article also stated that “Speaking at the People’s Progressive Party’s rally in Kitty, Jagdeo said that Crum-Ewing, a former army officer, could have been killed for the PNC to send their messages of racism… and that the police need to find out urgently who did this and I am telling you if they do that, you would probably be shocked to find out who killed this guy.”

First, Bharrat Jagdeo has publicly admitted to being in possession of information that can assist the police in a homicide investigation. Hence, it would be negligent for the Police to fail to interrogate him. The laws of Guyana apply to everyone. I therefore call on the Crime Chief of the Guyana Police Force immediately question Mr. Jagdeo who apparently has information can assist in the capture and prosecution of Mr. Crum-Ewing killers.  

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A Confidential Letter to Sir Clive Lloyd with an Urgent Request

Submitted by Errol Harry
President Donald Ramotar(l) and former President Bharrat Jagdeo(r)

President Donald Ramotar(l) and former President Bharrat Jagdeo(r)

Dear Clive,

Since you do not know me personally I do hope that my first-name familiarity is not considered an impertinence but I am sure that you appreciate that to all Guyanese at home or abroad you are still our very own Clive, our National hero …

I also appreciate that in the perilous times in which our country finds itself it might be considered ill-advised even risky to accede to the request above : to lend your considerable popular appeal and celebrity status to the pro-democratic pro-decency and anti-racism, campaign for real change in our benighted country and for which Mr Crum-Ewing’s life was taken…

I believe it is high time UWI History Professor Hilary Beckles of your West Indian Cricket Board of Control starts challenging the effects of Columbus’s error which has led to an identity crisis in our team and through-out the English-speaking Caribbean.

Read full text of letter in PDF format.

Guyana: Labour Review

Submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress

In 2014 the society continues to be plagued by poor governance, a hallmark of successive PPP administrations. The absence of a comprehensive Job Creation Policy, anchored in a National Development Plan that takes into consideration population growth and workplace development, continues be a feature of the government. Persons having completed studies are having difficulties securing gainful employment consistent with ILO Core Labour Standards which the Government of Guyana has embraced.

The industrial relations climate continues to be troubling. Collective Bargaining for some sectors of workers is treated with contempt by employers, with the major violator being the government. For the 12th year the government refuses to engage in good faith negotiations with unions in the public service. The GPSU is the largest union in the public service and also finds itself undermined by contract workers. Whilst the intent may have been to break the back of the union workers are compromised for even though they may receive higher wages they lose benefits, safety and security of organised labour and place themselves at the mercies of an exploitative regime. This here is a continued effort of government undermining collective labour.

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Guyana’s Parliament Prorogue, Democracy Under Threat

Submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress

GTUC calls on opposition to lead national front approach to refocus nation’s energies on lifting prorogation

The GTUC reiterates its call for President Ramotar to lift the prorogation of the National Assembly. It cannot be business as usual when it comes to governance since the business of government is not being conducted based on our Constitution.

Since the President’s announcement to retain prorogation with the hint to name a date early next year for elections, the GTUC is alarmed that society has seemingly taken vacation on this issue. This issue has gone on the backburner, submerged among other issues, instead of remaining focal. This is like the fabled Dog and the Shadow, where the bone (i.e. prorogation) is dropped to grab at the shadow (i.e. elections) which the President has cunningly introduced as a distraction and succeeded in taking the main issue (i.e. prorogation) off the table.

Prorogation is not dissolution. The President cannot call elections until parliament is dissolved. As it stands presently parliament is prorogued. A hint of elections while the National Assembly remains prorogued is deceptive and cunning. Dissolution precipitates elections.

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Prime Gaston Browne Adopts Hands Off Approach to Guyana Government’s Decision to Prorogue Parliament

New York Caribbean Democracy Body Slams Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Brown of Antigua & Barbuda, for “uninformed and vacuous” Comments On Political Crisis In Guyana

(L-to-R) Prime Minister Gaston Browne, CGID-President Rickford-Burke & Guyana's President Donald Ramotar

(L-to-R) Prime Minister Gaston Browne, CGID-President Rickford-Burke & Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar

NEW YORK: The New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has said the assertion by Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua & Barbuda, that Caricom “respects the right of Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar to prorogue Parliament and is not “too concerned,” are “repugnant to the constitution and people of Guyana, and incongruous with democratic values.”

CGID President Rickord Burke in a statement Saturday slammed Brown’s comments as “uninformed and vacuous.” He accused Caricom of demonstrating partiality towards the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP). “Mr. Brown’s comments evince tacit support for the PPP’s repression of the elected representatives of the people,” the statement added.

Ramotar on November 10th abruptly suspended the nation’s Parliament to prevent the passage of a no-confidence motion against his government.  The edict came as Members of Parliament (MP) assembled to debate the motion by the opposition Alliance for Change (AFC).

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Guyana Government Suspends Parliament

Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) writes White House, US Secretary of State regarding the suspension of democracy in Guyana, calls on the US government to condemn undemocratic act & to impose sanctions against the government and members of the ruling PPP ethnocracy.

US-dept-of-state-sealIn light of the arbitrary suspension of the Guyana Parliament by President Donald Ramotar, in order to avoid passage of a no-confidence motion against his corrupt government, CGID today dispatched the following letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry and National security Advisor Dr. Susan Rice calling on the United States government to condemn this undemocratic act and to impose sanctions against the government;  including direct penalties against members of the ruling PPP ethnocracy.

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Recording of Guyana’s Attorney General Anil Nandlall

TAPE RECORDING OF GUYANA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL ANIL NANDLALL ALLEGEDLY THREATENING TO SEND DEATH SQUAD TO KILL JURNALISTS: Guyana’s Attorney General Anil Nandlall caught on tape telling a Kaeieture Newspaper staffer that gun men (men with weapons) will soon show up at the offices of the newspaper & innocent people will pay the price if the newspaper keeps writing stories that embarrass and expose corrupt PPP government ministers and other officials

Rickford Burke