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The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has a notorious record of discrimination, and undermining institutions of democracy and good governance in Guyana. The last election has seen another dangerous development where the Ali/Jagdeo regime in seeking to consolidate their power is attaching illegal conditionalities to lawful constitutional practices.
In the latest display of disregard for the Constitution of Guyana and the rights of the people to freedom of expression is President Irfaan Ali’s response to call from Opposition Leader Joe Harmon to appoint Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Roxane George- Wiltshire to the positions of Chancellor and Chief Justice respectively. Both Justices are with years of services in the development of Guyana’s jurisprudence. They are also women well qualified and experienced, acting in these positions for several years.
This follows a pattern noted from the time Justice Claudette Singh vitiated the Janet Jagan election of 1997 which was deemed highly fraudulent. Justice Singh’s judicial career was thereafter stymied by the PPP/C who refused to promote her to Chief Justice and instead promoted her junior, Carl Singh, to the position.
As such when Desiree Bernard, then Chancellor left in 2005 to take up appointment as a judge at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Carl Singh became acting Chancellor and Ian Chang acting Chief Justice. After Chang demitted office Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards was appointed to act as Chief Justice. When Carl Singh retired, Cummings-Edwards was appointed to act as Chancellor and George-Wiltshire to act as Chief Justice.
By not appointing officers to fill these positions the PPP Executive is inadvertently exercising control and undermining the independence of Guyana jurisprudence. Human nature for self-preservation may well force ambitious individuals to comply with directives given and also censor themselves in ways that may compromise the integrity of their practice. This is unacceptable where there is separation of power as in the Guyana government system. It is a dangerous continuing precedent that needs to be stamped out forthwith.
It is also not lost on many that these three top women are also victims of misogyny and prejudices. How else can one explain Ali’s response to Harmon’s call? Is it that Ali’s ego is way bigger than himself, that though he craves the adulation of his title and will seek by any means necessary to have and to force recognition of his justified and bonafide placement, though mired in controversy and disputed by the Opposition?
Is his response a symbol of cultural hang-ups or cultural influences that deny women such high power and high profiled positions? If so, Ali is reminded that in Guyana gender and racial equality are enshrined in our Constitution. Does standing upright, in the office of president, require massaging of his ego? In the constitutional realm this is not a lawful consideration for execution of the law, which simply requires consultation with the constitutional Leader of the Opposition.
Women, being the majority of the Guyanese population, must recognise these anti-progressive stances taken against women are an attack on all women and girls, subjecting them to the whims and fancies of chauvinist men with small egos and anti-progressive politics. They will seek to suppress the growth and elevation of significant numbers of the Guyanese electorate.
That President Ali does this so bold-facedly ought to be much cause for concern. All law-abiding citizens of Guyana, regardless of one’s politics, should condemn such behaviours. The law remains the greatest protector of all Guyanese, not a political head, not a political party. It is that which will protect us regardless of who is in power. The petty politics must end.