IT makes no sense for opposition elements to demand that the President find a date for elections. The Elections Commission has set elections to be held the soonest in March 2020. It would be inadvisable for the Government to intervene and dictate for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) a date that is before this time-frame.
The Coalition Government deserves to be commended for waiting on the Courts to interpret the Constitution, and to set guidelines for the governance process since the passage of a no-confidence motion last December. The Coalition cannot be at fault for elections not being held by March 2019, since the courts were engaged in interpreting the laws as to whether the motion was validly carried by a single vote. Elections were on pause or pushed back while the matter was before the Guyana Court of Appeal, and later the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
With the CCJ guidelines issued, the Coalition accepted its interim status, pending new elections. But by then the process was guided solely by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which has the responsibility for conducting elections under constitutional provisions. There was a necessary period for a new GECOM Chairman to be in place, and since then, progress has been made to compile data for a new voters register.
This is a democratic process that fully accords with the Rule of Law and the doctrine of the Separation of Powers, which form part of our Westminster inheritance.
It is clear that the opposition and some other detractors had wanted the government to fall, as they were demanding elections at the earliest, before ‘first oil’ in Guyana. The stakes are very high, and these elements want a second chance at securing power within the normal, electoral cycle of five years. In other words, they want two elections within one term.
Neither President Granger nor the Coalition Government could be blamed for the workings of the Judiciary and the Guyana Elections Commission. The power-hungry and the power-brokers want the President, not GECOM, to hold elections. This is an invitation to violate the Constitution.
Democracy, like justice, may be slow. But it is the better option than to invite a bungled process by denying time that is adequate to prepare for credible elections. While time is of the essence, the protection of democratic processes is worth the wait on GECOM to tell us when it is prepared for fresh polls. It has said March 2020. If we can go around this time-frame and shorten it by a few weeks, then so be it, but this is a decision only GECOM can make.
As we have said in our editorial on Sunday, the PPP wants a strict constitutional solution to a political problem. It created a constitutional crisis and then yells at the court to solve the fictitious problem. It then hollers at the government for not going along with the hoax. The PPP and its allies take a very narrow view of constitutional supremacy. As far as they are concerned, the only aspect of the Constitution that matters is Article 106-6. They silence the other relevant aspects of the Constitution in favour of their narrow pursuit of power. But Article 6-6 is not meant to be a stand-alone article; it must be read along with Article 6-7.
The PPP wants to push crooked elections down the country’s throat to satisfy its narrow and autonomous reading of Article 6-6. This must not be allowed; credible elections are also a sacrosanct constitutional right. This is the very PPP, as Elder Eusi Kwayana and others have pointed out, that has a history of disdain for the Constitution. As recent as 2015, the PPP defied settled constitutional norms when faced with a NCM; it did not even allow a debate of the Motion. We urge citizens across the political divide to ignore this rhetoric of constitutional disobedience from the PPP. The government is constitutionally in place. Guyana is not a Pariah State.