News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Dec. 15, 2014: The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has slammed CARICOM Chairman and Prime of Antigua & Barbuda, Gaston Browne, over his comments on the proroguing of the Guyana Parliament
The assertion by Prime Minister Browne that CARICOM respects the right of Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar to prorogue Parliament is repugnant to the constitution and people of Guyana, and incongruous with democratic values, CGID President Rickord Burke said in a statement over the weekend.
Burke’s comments come on the heels of the Guyana Stabroek News paper quoting PM Brown as saying CARICOM will “respect the (Guyana) President’s judgment and Constitutional right,” to suspend the legislative branch of government.
Brown held that CARICOM was sufficiently satisfied that the President Ramotar’s decision was not intended as an abuse of power and that the community was duly satisfied that the creation of an autocratic state was not the intention behind the prorogation. He said given assurances that Ramotar will make an announcement on General Elections early in 2015 the Community is “not too concerned at this point” over the prorogation of the Guyanese Parliament.
He also was quoted as saying CARICOM will be keenly watching how the situation plays out in the coming months and should Ramotar renege on his commitment to name a date for General Elections, CARICOM is committed to engaging as mediators.
Burke slammed Brown’s comments as “uninformed and vacuous.” He also accused CARICOM of demonstrating partiality towards the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
This posture is analogous to abandonment of the “Caricom Charter of Civil Societies” and the democratic process, Burke said.
“I am left to ponder whether or not Prime Minister Brown believes that the arbitrarily suspension of his nation’s Parliament to obstruct the people’s elected representatives from fulfilling a constitutional mandate would be acceptable to the good people of Antigua & Barbuda,” Burke questioned.
The CGID President said regardless of what Brown claims, the result of the constitutional breakdown in Guyana is the emergence of an authoritarian State and a creeping dictator who is ruling by decree.
“It is disgraceful for CARICOM to countenance a lawless dictatorship that has imposed “one party rule” in the Member State where the Community has its headquarters,” he maintained adding that “if a mere expression of intent to call elections has arguably assuaged CARICOM Leaders, then those Leaders are credulous and apathetic to the abridgment of the inalienable rights of a majority of Guyanese.”
Guyana’s President Ramotar on November 10th abruptly suspended the nation’s Parliament to prevent the passage of a no-confidence motion against his government. The edict came as Members of Parliament (MP) assembled to debate the motion by the opposition Alliance for Change (AFC).
The combined opposition controls the 65 seat House with a majority of 33 seat; 7 from the AFC and 26 from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The government is in the minority with 32 seats. All 33 opposition MPs registered their support for the motion. Hence its passage was guaranteed. Had the motion passed, the government would have had to resign immediately and call general elections within 90 days. Guyana’s presidential and parliamentary elections are separate but simultaneous. The party with a plurality of votes in the presidential elections attains the presidency and forms the government.
Ramotar in an address to the nation on December 6th, vowed not to recall the Parliament but failed to call elections. Opposition leaders promptly branded him as a dictator who is acting extra-constitutionally to hang on to power. They demanded that the embattled President set a date for elections – a demand that he has ignored to date. He has instead said he will call early elections in the New Year, quite possibly before the April 30 deadline for the passage of a National Budget.