THE EDITOR: The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Tuesday rendered its long awaited ruling on the two critical constitutional matters pertaining to Guyana: the no confidence motion of December 21 was validly passed (33-32) and elections must be held within 90 days; and the President’s (David Granger) unilateral appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) chair was flawed.
Who will enforce the judgments? Granger has said elections are not possible until November or later. People are ridiculing Guyanese judges saying they don’t know how to read or calculate a majority.
The CCJ ordered the lawyers for the two contending parties (Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo) to meet and suggest a solution on a way forward to honour the rulings and return to court on Monday with their recommendations for the court’s blessings.
If the two opposing sides can’t agree, then the court said it is prepared to impose a solution on appointing a Gecom chair and fix a date for elections.
The Guyana Constitution states that the Parliament must be considered to be dissolved after the passage of a no confidence motion and the President must hold elections within 90 days. This would mean elections must be held by September 24. The government acts as caretaker until the results of the elections. There can be no new business transactions. But Granger, while saying he respects the CCJ ruling, says he can’t hold timely elections as required by the constitution. How will the CCJ force Granger to honour the constitution?
The constitution also states that the President must appoint a chairman of Gecom from a list of six nominees proposed by the Opposition Leader. Granger defied the constitution and appointed his own man, James Patterson, a former judge and a member of his party.
In a normal democracy, the President would honour the court’s rulings and dissolve Parliament, which Granger is yet to do. Patterson would resign since the court said his appointment is illegal. But Guyana is no normal democracy.
Since the rulings, Granger addressed the press saying he would listen to Patterson who advised him that elections can’t be held until earliest November. But Patterson is no longer the chair according to the CCJ. Therefore, his advice is null and void. Patterson must be immediately replaced since he refuses to resign.
Granger and Jagdeo should immediately meet (as the constitution requires consultation on the Gecom chair appointment) on resolving this issue. As required by the constitution, Jagdeo should submit a list of six names and Granger should choose one as chair. Failure to do so would defy the court.
Failing this, the CCJ must impose a solution when the court reconvenes on Monday. There should be strict timelines in order to honour the Guyana Constitution: Gecom chair appointee by June 28 and elections by September 28.
Bloggers are having a field day over the judgment – suggesting that Guyana judges receive math and basic English lessons that kindergarteners receive – on what is a majority and on mastering what they read.
DR VISHNU BISRAM