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Last Thursday’s ruling by acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire into the case brought by Opposition Whip Christopher Jones against Ms. Oneidge Walrond- Allicock for sitting in the National Assembly in violation of Article 58 of the Constitution is a deserving lesson.
That Ms. Walrond- Allicock, an attorney-at-law and former magistrate, told Guyanese she was not in violation of said Article, when this issue was litigated all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2019, is most unfortunate. What even makes it more so is the stout defense by Ms. Walrond- Allicock of her character, which was supported by the government, and daring anyone to besmirch same. This came crashing down when Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall admitted to the High Court her appointment was unconstitutional.
The admittance confirms they knew, from the start, they were engaging in a violation but, in what has become characteristic of Guyana’s politics, they hoped the deception and deceivers will succeed. That they did not, at least in this instance, is noteworthy for the society and the law. What the Chief Justice’s ruling made clear is that none is above the law.
Ms. Walrond-Allicock must be concerned that having taken the deliberate decision to deceive, her character will continue to face scrutiny, not only as a minister and Member of Parliament but in her rulings as a magistrate. It would be often asked whether her decisions in the past were based on law or something else and what will likely influence decisions in the future. This may not have been what she intended when she sought to deceive on her unconstitutional status, but it will taint her for a long time. It is her deception that will give fodder to this perception.
At a societal level there is reason to be concerned that leaders do not consider their role comes with great responsibility and could result in dire consequences when there is deliberate effort to set out to deceive. Little boys, particularly little girls, who looked up to this minister and government will have to be assured by their parents, that even as they could aspire to become a minister or parliamentarian, they must not aspire to deceive.
If there was any doubt about the criteria to sit in the National Assembly that was clarified by the Caribbean Court of Justice. Any who came after 2019, knowing fully well what that ruling stated, does not deserve compassion. Ms. Walrond-Allicock should not have taken the oath to hold office as a Minister and Member of Parliament when the Constitution does not support dual loyalty. She owes Guyanese an apology and all those little girls who looked up to her as a role model.