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Once again President Irfaan Ali has repeated his pre-condition for not meeting with the constitutionally elected Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon to engage on matters that both, by constitutional mandate, should meet on. In a government’s Department of Information, 7th September release, the President is quoted as saying “All the gentleman [Harmon] has to do is to recognise that he would be having consultations with the duly elected government and the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
What the release failed to say, and what President Ali is yet to say, is where in the Constitution of Guyana it is stated, implicitly or explicitly, the Leader of the Opposition “has …to recognise” the President before engagement could begin. To those not aware or looking forward to seeing this precondition, be assured the constitution sets out none.
Sometimes it is felt in Guyana when ordinary people are given the opportunity to do extraordinary things they disappoint. It may escape comprehension or logical reasoning- if the Leader of the Opposition and President have taken their oath of office a functioning government exists. It exists even if the party/ies in the government or in the opposition continue to question the legitimacy of the other. This is basic.
Society continues to be let down in basic comprehension and the potential of this deficit being applied to more complex issues is frightening. President Ali has to recognise that whilst his pre-condition may play well on a partisan political stage at the national and international levels this does his and Guyana’s image no good. It is embarrassing and makes Guyana a laughing stock.
The Constitution of Guyana gives the President and Leader of the Opposition tremendous power. It is the power to do good for the people, not work against the people. Whilst power could be daunting or abused in the wrong hands, society expects these two gentlemen, who came from humble backgrounds and experienced the plight of the ordinary man, would be sympathetic towards their cause and advance measures to help them.
Where both President and Opposition Leader have been given the opportunity to do something extraordinary for the people, Ali is seemingly more willing to abuse power and authority by throwing up unnecessary roadblocks to avoid meeting Harmon. It is a misuse of power vested and is not vested in the Constitution. Guyanese are fed-up with the absence of inclusion. It is divisive and could heighten tension in society.
There should be recognition that half the population, based on the declarations of the Guyana Elections Commission, support the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change, along with the small joiner partners. This is their right, protected by the Constitution, which could be verified unlike the pre-condition request. It is also the right of all the people to participate, be involved and benefit from what is happening in society. This could be constitutionally verified.
Supporters of the Main Opposition are entitled, by the Constitution, to participate without the unconstitutional request the President is making. Guyana’s system of government and many institutions of state are being hindered in their performance and by extension delivery of efficient service, which is undermining people’s confidence in the affected institutions. For the good of the country, its development, image and the six peoples’ peaceful co-existence, President Ali is being urged to put away his unconstitutional request and meet with Opposition Leader Harmon.