With less than two weeks before the coalition Government becomes illegal, former Speaker of the National Assembly and Attorney-at-Law Ralph Ramkarran has said that Guyana’s future seems to be uncertain owing to the fact that there is no clear indication when elections could be held.Referring to the meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, which yielded no results, Ramkarran said it was clear that the issue has now gone beyond what the Constitution says and means, as it relates to the passage of a no-confidence motion.In his weekly “Conversation Tree” blog, the prominent Attorney wrote that it was now clear more than ever that the President’s failure to fix a date for elections is because A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) intended to remain in office for as long as possible.“This is aided by the majority on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) who have voted, and will no doubt continue to support, a new registration exercise. A nationwide, house-to-house registration exercise will last into next year,” he added, something that Jagdeo has stated repeatedly.Ramkarran, therefore, believes that if the APNU/AFC’s effort to hold political power succeeds, it will hold elections between May and August next year, when its term of office would have otherwise lawfully ended. With the no-confidence vote, it has now clearly become a matter of political life and death.“If the electoral list is the problem, the National Assembly can extend the life of the current list beyond April 30. The Elections Commission already has power to remove the names of persons who have died. The list of deceased persons is expected to be provided by the Registry of Births and Deaths.”He claimed that since 1992, systems accepted by all have been in place at polling stations to prevent unauthorised persons from voting. There is, therefore, little or no danger that impersonation at polling stations of persons who have left Guyana will take place.Ramkarran, therefore, concluded that none of the fears expressed by political parties about elections since 1992 have a basis in reality or have materialised. Only one party, according to him, has had a history of election rigging in Guyana and that party is the People’s National Congress (PNC).“And it was able to do so, because it held political power and was protected by the West. The fears about a ‘credible’ list, now being used as an excuse by the President for not calling elections, are politically manufactured for the purpose of delaying the elections,” he opined.SanctionsRamkarran said it was no secret that new elections were not going to be held willingly by the Government. But he said it must be reminded of the potential harm of taking Guyana down a path, which violates the rule of law and the Constitution of Guyana – which may incur international sanctions.“It appears that the Government is prepared to accept these consequences, because the delay is vital to its survival. This Government, unlike the last PNC Government between 1985 and 1992, takes its inspiration from Forbes Burnham, the Founder Leader of the PNC. PNC Governments led by Forbes Burnham survived elections rigging and authoritarian rule,” he added.He said the APNU/AFC no doubt believed that, like the PNC in the past, it could not only weather any storm that its violation of the Constitution incurred but that its very existence depended on it doing so.He suggested also that the Government may also be relying on the perceived sympathy with which it was viewed by Western capitals. Oil and the interests of oil producers, he noted, would be looming large in the calculations of the West in their decisions about Guyana.Despite this, however, concerns being expressed by countries about democracy in other countries are no longer considered to be matters of the internal affairs of the subject country. And that is the reason why sanctions are now imposed routinely against countries that violate constitutional order.Ramkarran used Venezuela as an example where severe international sanctions have been imposed. He said aside from the Government’s apparent grit to resist potential international sanctions, which it may be hoping that sympathy from the West may spare it, Guyana still faces a high degree of uncertainty.
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