Jagdeo’s flawed interpretation

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Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

—President Granger remains president until another president is sworn in

THE Government of Guyana strongly condemns the continued misinformation being peddled by Opposition Leader, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo, that President David Granger will cease to be President after March 21, 2019.

At a press conference held on Thursday, Mr Jagdeo reiterated that President Granger will no longer be president after March 21. While responding to questions about his telephone conversation with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, he said, “I prefer to keep a little quiet on the content at this point in time until I hear back from him as to whether he has spoken to President Granger, who will by the way, be Mr Granger from the 21st.”

The Government of Guyana deems Mr Jagdeo’s utterances as malicious and intended to create confusion amongst the populace. His statement is patently flawed and must be rejected outrightly. There is no provision in the Constitution of Guyana which requires the President to resign or demit office following the passage of a no-confidence motion.
Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George, on January 31, 2019, in the case of Attorney General v the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition, declared that while the no-confidence motion against the government prompts the resignation of the Cabinet and the hosting of elections, it does not dissolve the Parliament, which comprises the National Assembly and the President.

In fact, Article 106 (7) of the Constitution specifically states that the government remains in office and the National Assembly may pass a resolution to extend the time for elections beyond the three-month period within which elections are required to be held. “Notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”

The aforementioned article is clear that there must be continuity in government and there are no legal barriers restricting the government from exercising its functions. The President therefore, remains president until another president is sworn in. It should be noted that there are four processes which are running concurrently: The Legislature, Judiciary, Electoral and the Executive.

Article 62 of the Constitution of Guyana states that: “Elections shall be independently supervised by the Election [s] Commission in accordance with the provisions of Article 162.”
The Constitution of Guyana states unequivocally that GECOM is an independent, autonomous body responsible for the hosting of free, fair and credible elections. President Granger cannot interfere in GECOM’s work. He has to be advised by the commission of its readiness to host elections. The President has repeatedly, over the past few weeks, said that he is committed to holding credible elections in the shortest possible time, this year.

“It is not for anybody to give the commission instructions as to when elections are to be held. Once the commission says it is ready, I will announce a date and I hope that date is as early as possible,” President Granger said last week following consultations with the chairman and commissioners of GECOM.

The Government of Guyana is concerned that the leader of the opposition continues to peddle misinformation in the public domain with the intent to confuse and create panic among citizens. It views as reckless his statements and calls on him to act responsibly during this very sensitive period in the country’s history.

On Monday, March 11, 2019 the government condemned Mr Jagdeo’s inciting remarks, which he had initially made at a memorial ceremony held at Babu Jaan, Port Mourant, Corentyne, East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six), noting that they could lead to a breach of the peace and public order. Mr Jagdeo again today indulged himself in reiterating these remarks at the press conference, seemingly without any consideration of the possible confrontational outcomes that they could engender which may jeopardise the safety and security of the sitting President and his ministers.

The government reiterates that the irresponsible call by Mr Jagdeo to “chase” President Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and government ministers out of their communities is dangerous and unacceptable, particularly in an election year. The government therefore encourages the public to exercise good sense and to desist from disorderly behaviour as the law enforcement agencies will treat condignly, any disorderly conduct. (Ministry of the Presidency)