…Lincoln Lewis warns media houses, stakeholders
VETERAN trade unionist Lincoln Lewis has called out media houses and other groups for misusing the statements by the diplomatic community for narrow self-interest urging all Guyanese to have a second look at the statements and “act on the obvious spirit and intent to keep us united around common values.”
Lewis was making reference to a media house declaring that the European Union was mounting pressure on government in a statement, which the body was careful to urge that “all stakeholders” must uphold the constitution.
Lewis also said it is time the key players in Guyana’s political arena demonstrate a high level of responsibility and put the interest of the people first, as the country navigates the current challenging political period. In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Lewis warned that the world is watching the country’s handling of the unprecedented confidence. He said, already, both the United Nations (UN) Resident Representative Mikiko Tanaka and the European Union (EU) have added their voices by urging political leaders and all other stakeholders to be guided by the constitution.
Lewis said while the UN singled out the government, the opposition is equally required to uphold the constitution. “Both government and opposition are equally responsible to operate within the parameters set by the constitution, the aspect for the UN’s statement that called on ‘the Executive, [to] demonstrate its integrity and respect of Guyana’s Constitution and Judiciary’ does not augur well for creating balance and fair play,” the trade unionist opined.
He said Guyanese ought to be reminded that the opposition has equal responsibility to respect the constitution and judicial processes. “It is also unfortunate that that particular (UN) statement became the panacea or only value in a series of statements that, should attention be paid to, the overall thrust focuses on inclusion, people’s empowerment and the importance of the vote and education of the masses,” Lewis said.
He said aside from the issue of singling out the government, both statements by the EU and the UN representative are loaded with general advice and concerns for all Guyanese. Those words of encouragement are welcomed, he said, as he urged the government, opposition and all Guyanese to have a second look at the statements and “act on the obvious spirit and intent to keep us united around common values.”
If read thoroughly, he said one would see that there is a general challenge for all Guyanese to work together for the common good.
“They let us know that there is a watchful eye as we navigate this process following the confidence vote. It is therefore misrepresenting as a whole and perceived as an effort appealing to partisan interest that their input in Guyana’s well-being is totally classified in various groups and media interests as that of mounting pressure on one side.
“We must not be fooled or taken off course pursuing judicial judgement, consistent with a branch of our government and enshrined in the constitution,” he advised.
Lewis reminded that in Guyana’s three-tier judicial system, the process still remains the best and safest means of preservation as a united people.
“The concern is in this moment of political hype, better judgement must prevail, so that we do not ignore efforts by the EU and UN, asking and expecting of us a higher degree of political maturity. Politicians and society will do disservice to the call by these two organisations for an inclusive society [and] respect for the constitution if they ignore or misuse these statements, if they fail to see our ‘diversity and experience are assets,’ the call for transparency; every one’s voices and votes being counted which can be interpreted as ensuring a credible Voters List and a credible process. This is only possible if collectively we put Guyana first and heed the goodwill expressed for Guyana’s success and sustainable development,” Lewis said.
He is urging politicians on all sides to carefully choose their words to avoid provocation or misinterpretation but most importantly to put aside their partisan interests.
“We as a people cannot continue along this pathway serving partisan interests, yet expecting peace, stability, sustainable development and national unity. We must live our motto of ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny,’ he told this newspaper.
Last Thursday, the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire handed down several decisions in three constitutional cases that sought to determine the validity of the no-confidence motion passed against the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government. The chief justice completed the cases in under a month.
With Justice George-Wiltshire ruling that the motion was validly carried, government signalled its intention to appeal the High Court’s decision in an attempt to safeguard its five-year term in office. The constitution stipulates that General and Regional Elections be held within 90 days following the defeat of a government, or by a time agreed upon by no less than two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.
Government would therefore need the support of the opposition to extend the timeline, since the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has indicated that elections are not possible by March 21, 2019. It is still assessing its readiness to hold elections within the coming months.