The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled, in the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman case at paragraph 5 of the consequential Orders, “In this, ‘the GECOM Chairman case’, the Court concluded that the process that resulted in the unilateral appointment by the President of a Chairman of GECOM was flawed and in breach of the Constitution.”
Attorney-at-law and former Member of Parliament Charles Ramson referenced this as he sought to highlight that President David Granger will go down in history as the first Guyanese Head of State declared by the highest court to have acted in breach of the Constitution.
Ramson said, “This is the first time in Guyana’s history that it was ruled by the judiciary that any President of Guyana has breached our Constitution by his or her own deliberate action.”
The lawyer said that President Granger’s breach of the Constitution is very serious for several reasons.
First, Ramson noted that the Constitution specifically states that a president can be removed from office for the violation of the Constitution. On that point, Ramson said that it would not be credible for President Granger to argue that he was unaware that his action would be in breach of the Constitution because, in addition to the clear language of the Article, it was a practice for over 20 years that no president has ever interpreted Article 161 of the Constitution to mean that he or she can reject the list of nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition for the post of GECOM Chairman and make a unilateral appointment.
Further, Ramson said President Granger cannot say he was unaware that his action would be in breach of the Constitution because several civil society bodies and lawyers spoke publicly on the issue both prior to as well as following the unilateral appointment.
Ramson further noted that the breach of Constitution by President Granger is very serious because the Constitution is, in and of itself, the most important document for all Guyanese.
“This is the document which gives all Guyanese their rights, protections, and freedoms which includes, among other things, the right to life and liberty, the right to a free education, and healthcare, the right to own private property and the protection against its deprivation without due process, and the freedom of expression and religious belief. These rights, freedoms, and protections are fundamental to how we, as Guyanese, live our lives and it is the Constitution which guarantees such. Incidentally, it is the very same Constitution which frames the institutional order of our country and gives President Granger himself the powers and immunities which he enjoys as President,” Ramson said.
The lawyer said that President Granger simply cannot cherry pick the parts of the Constitution which is beneficial to him and his purposes and disregard the other parts which are not.
Finally, Ramson said that the breach of the Constitution by President Granger also sends the message to international investors and the international community that Guyana is not a country which respects and upholds the rule of law and that, in turn, increases our risk profile for investment and international loans.
“Now that the highest Court has ruled that President Granger has breached the Constitution of Guyana by his own deliberate action, it confirms what most Guyanese already knew which is that David Granger as President has not been a good leader for Guyana and his position as president and potential re-election is, quite frankly, untenable. We must have an election immediately to elect a new President.”