– President Granger assures gov’t acting within confines of constitution
…says opposition trying to create atmosphere of crisis, chaos
…cites operatives in Ministry of Communities for not complying with ministers’instructions
AMID attempts to sabotage his government, and to create an atmosphere of chaos, President David Granger said his government continues to act within the confines of the Constitution, and remains committed to having elections held within the shortest time possible in adherence to the rulings and declarations of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
In an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Friday, President Granger said “unfortunately,” since the passage of the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018, there have been a lot of misrepresentations of the facts, suggesting that his government is illegal. “There are some cases where some public officers do not comply with the instructions of the ministers, particularly in the Ministry of Communities, and these have led to, I would not say demoralisation, but they have led to, I would say sabotage of some governmental functions; and this I suppose could be seen as creating confusion in the minds of normal public servants, normal members of the public going about their day-to-day business,” the Head of State told this newspaper.
The President made it clear that there is no crisis. It was explained that while the no-confidence motion created some expectations, the opposition – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – in engineering the motion, failed to consider whether the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is capable of conducting elections within three months or 90 days. Additionally, he said the opposition, in passing the motion, also failed to consider and understand the roles of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary.
GECOM NOT READY
From the onset, the Elections Commission indicated that it lacked the capacity to conduct General and Regional Elections within three months – an indication that the government and the opposition ought to have returned to the National Assembly to extend the period for the conduct of elections in accordance with the Constitution, but instead, the opposition boycotted the sittings of the National Assembly. Now, that the Official List of Electors has expired, the Elections Commission has moved to conduct house-to-house registration, and according to its Attorney-at-Law, Stanley Marcus, it would be in a position to conduct elections after December 25, by which time, national registration would be completed.
The no-confidence motion also triggered a series of legal actions which resulted in the High Court upholding the no-confidence motion against the government on January 31, 2019 – a ruling that was later overturned by the Court of Appeal by a 2-1 margin on March 22. Less than three months after on June 18, the CCJ, Guyana’s final appellate court, upheld the no-confidence motion. However, in handing down its consequential orders on July 12, the CCJ said, “the filing of the court proceedings in January challenging the validity of the no-confidence vote effectively placed matters on pause, but this court rendered its decision on 18 June 2019.” It noted too that the government shall remain in office, though in an interim mode, until elections are held and a President is sworn in.
President Granger said his administration has carefully followed the rulings of the courts. He pointed that even before the CCJ handed down its decision, four of his Ministers – Joseph Harmon, Carl Greenidge, Dominic Gaskin and Rupert Roopnaraine – resigned from the Parliament of Guyana and ultimately as Ministers after the High Court, in its January 31 decision, ruled that it was unconstitutional for dual citizens to be Members of Parliament.
Now that the CCJ has ruled, the President said his government will continue to comply with the rulings of the court. “So in every respect we have not been clinging to power illegally; we would like to see that the law is enforced. Everything that we do, will become part of the precedent, and the government today, and the government after the elections would always comply with the law,” he assured this newspaper.
IMPROVE EFFICIENCY OF GECOM
Going forward, he said the government will improve the efficiency of the Elections Commission, and in addition, ensure the membership of the National Assembly is in total conformity with the Constitution. “So there is no confusion, confusion is in the minds of the people who want to create an atmosphere of confusion,” President Granger posited. Despite these attempts at causing chaos, the President is assuring the people of Guyana that his government will continue to function within the confines of the Constitution and the declarations of the CCJ. “The government will not embark on any measure which is not in accordance with its status as an interim administration,” he assured this newspaper.
“I want to assure everyone that this government is interested, and will do everything possible to ensure credible elections are held at a short time as possible that is what we are aiming at,” he said, while pointing out that he and his team have met with the opposition six times in 15 days on the appointment of a GECOM Chairman. A chairman needs to be appointed to the Elections Commission before elections could be held.
Turning his attention to the series of protests that have occurred in recent times, the President noted that supporters of both the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government, and the opposition have protested GECOM – the former, for the conduct of house-to-house registration ahead of elections, and the latter for elections to be held within three months. These protests, the President noted, have been orderly and peaceful, and within the rights of individuals and organisations to protest.
“Once the protests are conducted in an orderly way, the government will have no problem,” he stated. He said while people may not feel unsafe, both the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defense Force are prepared to make sure that Law and Order continues to be maintained, that people’s lives are not jeopardised. However, he said the actions of the opposition come as no surprise to him but assured that government will continue to uphold the Constitution. “Well oppositions do what oppositions do, they oppose, even though there are no grounds for such opposition. It is clear that the opposition is trying to create an atmosphere of crisis and chaos but these efforts would be proven to be futile. We will continue to work towards an orderly outcome,” the President said.