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– Harmon says
While President Irfaan Ali has said that he will not consult with the Leader of the Opposition unless certain conditions are met, the Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon said the Constitution sets no pre-condition.
“I just wish to remind that the Constitution sets no precondition for consultation between President and the Leader of the Opposition,” Harmon said during a virtual press conference on Friday.
President Ali, in a recent interview, told reporters that he will not recognize the Office of the Leader of the Opposition until it recognizes the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) as a legitimate Government. His Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Government, Gail Teixeira went one step further and indicated that the Opposition will be blocked from nominating persons to sit on State Boards until this and other pre-conditions are met. For the Opposition Leader, the Government’s posture can also be described as a blatant violation of the Constitution.
While the nomination of members to State Boards is premise on an aged old agreement between the PPP/C and the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), Harmon said the Constitution specifically requires that there be consultation with the Leader of the Opposition by the President in the appointment of a number of constitutional office holders. “No precondition is attached,” the Opposition Leader iterated.
Article 127 of the Constitution requires that agreements be reached between the President and the Opposition Leader for the appointment of Chancellor and Chief justice while Article 191 mandates that the ombudsman be appointed by the President based on consultation with the Opposition Leader.
Articles 198, 200, 207, 210, 212 and 161 outline similar requirements for the appointment of members of the Judicial Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission, the Police Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
MORE CONSTITUTIONAL BREACHES
Still on the issue of constitutional breaches, the Opposition Leader said in addition to the blatant violation of Article 219 (3) of the Constitution with regards to the budget, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance has usurped the functions of the public office of the Secretary to the Cabinet in breach of Article 117.
The Public Office of the Secretary of the Cabinet is responsible for arranging the business of, and keeping the minutes of, the cabinet and for conveying the decisions of the cabinet to the appropriate person or authority.
“Since the PPP/C regime came to office on the 2nd August, 2020, Gail Teixeira has usurped the functions and duties of this constitutional office,” he said while noting that Article 232 (5) of the expressly excludes the service as a minister as service in the public service.
“What this means is that Gail Texeira signing documents which convey the decisions of Cabinet are unconstitutional and are ultra vires and of no effect. We advise that all such decisions affected by this unconstitutionality be reversed- some of these have to do with the recent appointment of state boards- the appointment of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board on 23rd September, 2020 and the Go-Invest Board dated September 29th, 2020,” the Opposition Leader said.
Further, he condemned the decision by the Government to merge the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board with the Project Cycle Management Division, noting that such a moves takes away the independence of NPTAB.
“This new and incestuous relationship between PCMD and NPTAB imposed by cabinet threatens the integrity, transparency, fairness and public trust in the procurement system,” he said.
Harmon added: “As if this was not enough, it has come to our attention that Mr Winston Barrington of NICIL fame has been encouraged to set up consultancy which will deal with all transformational projects such as the Demerara Harbour Bridge, roads, the colossally failed Amaila Falls Hydro project, among others. Our understanding is that a number of public servants have been sent to work with Mr. Brassington.”
Noting that the PPP/C’s current posture is an attempt to prevent scrutiny of their slipshod work in government, Harmon made public a letter written to President Ali subsequent to the visit by the US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo.
In that letter dated September 24, 2020, the Opposition Leader copies of the full agreements reached between Guyana and the United States of America but a response has not been forthcoming. Failure to share these agreements, Harmon wared, would result in him writing the International Community.
He said while the while the Office of the President refuses to speak and communicate, the region is watching, as he referenced to editorials within in newspapers in Jamaica and Barbados.
The Jamaica Gleaner, in an editorial published on September 30, 2020 said: “using the law to settle political scores is a tactic often employed by authoritarian governments and their leaders, which we hope is not what is happening in Guyana. It has no place in liberal democracy. President Irfaan Ali must be careful that it does not evolve into something far more malodorous and politically uncontainable.”
In Barbados Nation Newspaper last week, and editorial in part, read, “Guyana has shown how to bend over backwards and to genuflect as the new administration in Georgetown expressed its gratitude to Washington for its support during the stalemate following the disputed march elections.”