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Thursday 18 July 2019
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Editorial

DANGEROUS PLAY FOR TIME

Photo courtesy Pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay

ALL EYES should be on Guyana where despite the clear ruling of its highest court, there has been uncertainty surrounding the way forward and timeline for the holding of a general election.

The constitution of Guyana sets out the parameters of when and in what circumstances an election is to be held.

Yet, the failure of the David Granger-led administration and the Bharrat Jagdeo-led opposition to present a consensus position to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Monday is not only a grave disappointment but constitutes a frustration of democracy.

The CCJ has clearly ruled that the December 21 no-confidence motion, which saw the Granger administration defeated, was properly passed with a vote of 33 members in the 65-seat National Assembly.

Having so ruled, it is incumbent on the Guyanese government to give effect to the requirements of the law. It is axiomatic that whenever a government loses a motion of confidence elections are to be held.

The vote took place six months ago. Guyana should by now be ready and the state should have prepared for last week’s ruling.

Granger, however, now calls for a house-to-house registration to supposedly rehabilitate the current voters' list. Yet, such a matter falls within the ambit of the Guyana elections commission, not the executive.

What falls squarely within Granger’s ambit, though, is the appointment of a new commission chairman, a matter which Granger has – in the CCJ’s estimation – already once botched and for which there now appears to be a worrying dragging of feet. Playing for time, power is being abused.

If indeed there is genuine concern over the current readiness for an election, it is the government’s fault for failing to address this by now. In a democracy, people must be able to vote, even at short notice, or else the entire system is emasculated.

An executive cannot be given a blank cheque to delay polls indefinitely under the guise of purported lack of readiness. The CCJ’s ruling on this matter was not a surprise.

In this regard, the warning against “coercive orders” by Guyana’s attorney general Basil Williams and his lead counsel Eamon Courtenay, SC, on Monday falls ill from the mouth of the government that turned to the courts in the first place. It is high time this bitter dispute is taken out of the hands of political operatives and placed squarely before the people. There is more at stake than just oil and gas.

Unlike Venezuela, Guyana is a member of Caricom and all member states should be wary of a repeat of history. Stability and the rule of law, and not political expediency, should now inform how this matter is resolved. Caricom must so advise.

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