The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on Thursday called out President David Granger for claiming that his Government has been acting in a “fortified manner”. This, according to the party, is furthest from the reality of what currently obtains.See the full statement below:As expected, President David Granger trotted out the ‘usual line’ when he addressed the members of the Diplomatic Corps (Thursday, July 25, 2019).The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is of the view that Mr Granger’s comments about acting in a manner that “fortified democracy” in Guyana are the furthest thing from the reality of the current state of affairs.No-Confidence MotionWhile Mr Granger claims that the legal processes his Government kicked into gear were not “calculated to delay the consequences” of the No-Confidence Motion, he seems to have forgotten that his coalition’s move to the Court came after his initial acceptance that the passage of the No-Confidence Motion triggered General and Regional Elections, which should have been held since March 21, 2019 – an acceptance he backpedalled on with the move to the Courts. It was the PPP/C that acted responsibly and saw the legal process through to the end; an end that returned Guyana to the position we were at on the night of December 21, 2018 – the No-Confidence Motion was declared validly passed and General and Regional Elections were now due, as per Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution.Curiously, while Mr Granger says, in passing, that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) — Guyana’s final Court— ruled on June 18, 2019, on the validity of the No-Confidence Motion and handed its orders down on July 12, 2019, he failed to even voice what those orders were.Key among the orders made by the CCJ were that: “The provisions of Article 106(6) and (7) of the Constitution apply to a No-Confidence motion” and that “upon the passage of this motion of no-confidence in the Government, the clear provisions of Article 106 immediately became engaged”.New GECOM ChairMr Granger quoted from the CCJ ruling on the challenge to his unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman, selectively, to ascribe to himself a role that seemingly goes beyond what the Constitution of Guyana envisages.It must be noted that in doing so, he selectively quoted from paragraph 28 of the CCJ’s June 18, 2019 ruling.While Mr Granger quoted the CCJ as saying that “This approach gives the President a role in the identification of the six names” – in fact, he ignored that this paragraph deals with him being prevented from making a unilateral appointment.In its totality, paragraph 28 reads: “Once the President and the Leader of the Opposition have hammered out a list of names not unacceptable to the President, the list, comprising the six persons, must then formally be submitted to the President by the Leader of the Opposition and the President must then select the Chairman from among those names. This approach gives the President a role in the identification of the six names, but it obviates the possibility that, after the formal presentation of the list, the President could suggest that one or more of the names, or indeed the entire list, is ‘unacceptable’. Unilateral appointment by the President in keeping with the proviso to Article 161(2) can hardly be an option if the Leader of the Opposition demonstrates a willingness to engage in good faith the process outlined above”.Additionally, Mr Granger clearly refused to even address the orders of the CCJ, in the matter of appointing a new GECOM Chairperson.On July 12, the CCJ said, “It is now a matter of the greatest public importance that the President and the Leader of the Opposition should, as soon as possible, embark upon and conclude the process of appointing a new GECOM Chairman. This imperative is now of the utmost urgency in light of our decision in the No-Confidence Motion cases that the motion was validly passed, thereby, triggering the need for fresh general elections”. ***“The Court refers to the views we expressed at paragraphs 26-29 of our earlier judgement in this matter as a suitable frame of reference for the process leading to such an appointment”.The CCJ has not re-written Guyana’s Constitution, relative to the defined roles of the President and the Opposition Leader in the appointment of a new GECOM Chairperson. Even Mr Granger, on July 4, 2019, accepted that he cannot nominate names to himself for approval.For this reason, the Party finds it strange that Mr Granger is now seemingly attempting to define “serious consideration” of his allowance to suggest names of nominees for the post of GECOM Chair to mean acceptance by the Leader of the Opposition of his suggestions.Credible voters’ listThe Party was also not surprised at Mr Granger’s reiterations about the need for a “credible Official List of Electors” before General and Regional Elections and the need for new House-to-House Registration.Mr Granger must be reminded that the Constitution and the CCJ made it clear that elections are due within three months of June 18, 2019 – that is, by September 18, 2019. He also needs to be reminded that GECOM was ordered by the CCJ to comply with the Constitution.The Party notes that while Mr Granger repeats his so called justifications for a new national House-to-House registration, to produce a new Voters’ List, it was the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of GECOM who said: The last valid List of Voters can be updated via a Claims and Objections process; and that the comments made by Mr Granger about a “bloated” voters’ list are speculative.The Party agrees that the independence of GECOM is safeguarded by the Constitution. However, GECOM is subservient to the Constitution, not the other way around.The Constitution is clear that elections are due in three months. The CCJ is clear that GECOM must comply with the Constitution. The CCJ, in its July 12, 2019 order, said: “The Guyana Elections Commission (“GECOM”) has the responsibility to conduct that election and GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution…Article 106 of the Constitution invests in the President and the National Assembly (and implicitly in GECOM), responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the elections which must be held”.Threats to the JudiciaryMr Granger’s insistence that the Court cannot instruct when general elections must be held because the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is an independent agency can only be interpreted as a threat to the Judiciary.Only today, the PPP General Secretary said, “It’s impossible to take a President who is so ill-advised seriously. He should familiarise himself with the Esther Perreira case in which the court actually ordered elections by a certain date”.“In this case, the Constitution sets the timeframe for elections when a government is defeated on a vote of no-confidence. GECOM was a party to the proceedings in the court and the CCJ orders are binding on it. I interpret his comments as intending to intimidate the Judiciary”.Bad faithFurther, while Mr Granger talks about his Government’s positions being subject to “misinterpretation and misrepresentation”, he seems oblivious to the flip-flopping and backpedalling he, as well as his colleagues, have been engaged in over the past several months.The actions of both him and his APNU/AFC coalition colleagues demonstrate nothing but bad faith.The PPP is clear that the CCJ ruled that a new GECOM Chairperson must be appointed with “utmost urgency”, and that the passage of the No-Confidence Motion on December 21, 2018 was “valid” – triggering a move to General and Regional Elections.What Mr Granger needs to answer, in line with the Constitution, as well as the ruling and orders of the CCJ, are:1. If he was committed to ensuring the appointment of a GECOM Chairperson with utmost urgency, why have there been no meetings for over a week now on the matter?2. Why has the GECOM Secretariat not been invited to advise on its readiness for General and Regional Elections – while the process of a new GECOM Chair is being addressed – when none other than the Chief Elections Officer has admitted that a Claims and Objections process can update the last valid List of Electors’ to allow the move to Elections?3. Why has he and his Cabinet not resigned, in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution?4. Why is his Cabinet still meeting when the Government’s legal authority has been restrained?5. Why has there been no acknowledgement that there is a ticking clock (the three-month deadline having been restarted on June 18, 2019) on the time within which constitutionally-mandated General and Regional Elections have to be held?Rather than mouthing more political rhetoric, these are the questions that Mr Granger must answer – not just for the Diplomatic Corps, which is paying keen attention to the developments in Guyana, but, importantly, for the Guyanese people.
Story Highlights Patron of the National Festival Queen Competition, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, says she is confident that the 13 finalists in this year’s Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) contest will be among the country’s future leaders. The reigning queen is Dainalyn Swaby, who represented St. Elizabeth. For her part, Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, thanked Mrs. Holness for hosting the breakfast, and reminded the finalists that they, in their capacities as parish queens, are all cultural activists. Patron of the National Festival Queen Competition, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, says she is confident that the 13 finalists in this year’s Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) contest will be among the country’s future leaders.Addressing the contestants during Tuesday’s (July 31) Festival Queen Breakfast at the Jamaica House Banquet Hall, Mrs. Holness noted that the finalists are “bright, articulate and well-rounded in terms of your knowledge of Jamaica and your own creativity and talent”.“I am absolutely comfortable and confident that in this very room are seated the next generation of Jamaica’s leaders. I am absolutely proud to be the Patron of an event which brings together such a distinguished group of women,” she said.Meanwhile, Mrs Holness is encouraging the finalists to use the opportunities afforded them, by virtue of winning their parish titles, as springboards to propel themselves towards achieving greater success.She emphasised that the parish crown “is not a destination but a stepping stone for greater things to come,” adding that “each daily experience must form part of the groundwork for the next day’s achievements”.Mrs. Holness also encouraged them to engage in outreach activities in their respective parishes that will empower other women, in particular, through mentorship and other initiatives.She urged them to bear in mind that whatever the outcome of the coronation, slated for Emancipation Day, Wednesday, August 1, “all of you are already winners”.For her part, Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, thanked Mrs. Holness for hosting the breakfast, and reminded the finalists that they, in their capacities as parish queens, are all cultural activists.She said whatever the competition’s outcome, each finalist would still be excellent cultural representatives and leaders, “because you would have done your best… and (made) us all very proud”.“So, when the contest is over, you still have a responsibility… to continue to be leaders in your parishes and to be leaders nationally,” Miss Grange added.In his remarks, JCDC Executive Director, Orville Hill, said the experience gained by this year’s queens “is not one that you leave at the doorstep; it stays with you as you go through your experiences in life”.“Your experience has just started. As you go back into your respective communities, you (will be) representing your parish; the JCDC; the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and, in fact, Jamaica,” he added.Miss Manchester, Stacy Ann Nelson, who responded on behalf of the contestants, gave their undertaking to be exemplary ambassadors.The reigning queen is Dainalyn Swaby, who represented St. Elizabeth.