The opposition should refocus the nation’s energies on lifting prorogation

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) calls on the opposition to refocus the nation’s energies on lifting prorogation. The GTUC reiterates its call for President Ramotar to lift the prorogation of the National Assembly. It cannot be business as usual when it comes to governance since the business of government is not being conducted based on our constitution.

Since the President’s announcement to retain prorogation with the hint about naming a date early next year for elections, the GTUC has become alarmed that society has seemingly taken a vacation on this issue. It has gone on the backburner, submerged among other issues, instead of remaining a focal point. This is like the fabled Dog and the Shadow, where the bone (i.e. prorogation) is dropped to grab at the shadow (i.e. elections) which the President has cunningly introduced as a distraction thereby succeeding in taking the main issue off the table.

Prorogation is not dissolution. The President cannot call elections until parliament is dissolved. As it stands presently parliament is prorogued. A hint of elections while the National Assembly remains prorogued is deceptive and cunning. Dissolution precipitates elections. The President cannot dissolve a prorogued Parliament. Parliament has to be in session before any dissolution can take place. Running after elections at this time is like shooting at windmills and allowing the President an unchallenged dictatorship to run the affairs of state without parliament.

Political parties ought always to be in a state of preparedness for elections, moreso in the context of a minority government and the nature of our politics. Preparation for a possible early election should not take away from fighting against the act of prorogation. And any efficient political force seeking and worthy to be the alternative government should not have a difficulty multi-tasking.

Our political leaders are called upon to stop acting like the Pied Piper. It would be an indictment of the opposition if they allowed themselves to be accessories to the lawlessness being perpetrated by the President in his contravention of the spirit and intent of the constitution. For our political leaders to allow President Ramotar to hoodwink the nation with the offer of elections at the end of the prorogation period is to give him immunity to continue his dictatorial reign.

The lack of a strident, sustained, political response on this issue is of major concern to the GTUC. The prorogation of Parliament must be lifted and our elected representatives must be allowed their right to return to work on the nation’s behalf.

President Ramotar is called on to stop the abuse of his privilege and end prorogation forthwith. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr David Granger, is called on to mount a serious national movement to refocus the nation’s energies and attention on the President’s act of prorogation, which at this juncture must take precedence over any ‘threat’ of elections.

It appears that some political leaders have been convinced that the only concern of this nation relates to a privileged section of society concerned about their economic gains and seasonal profits. This is unacceptable since the interest of all sectors of society and the common good should determine political action. Meanwhile the masses continue to be denied participation through their representatives in the highest decision-making forum of the land. Such a violation of rights is unprecedented in the history of Guyana, even under the regime of Bharrat Jagdeo.

The GTUC is concerned about some of our politicians failing this nation and undermining the democratic processes enshrined in the constitution.

Yours faithfully,
Leslie Gonsalves
President, GTUC

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