‘Democracy is bureaucracy’

-Ramjattan on delay in constitutional reform

The government’s failure to begin the constitutional reform process within the first 100 days of assuming office should not be seen as an indicator that the Alliance For Change (AFC) has departed from its principles, according to the party’s Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan.

“Our principles and core values in relation to integrity, transparency and accountability will always remain as will our liberal democratic values,” Ramjattan told a press conference yesterday, while welcoming criticism, which he said forced the party to live “the examined life.”

Constitutional reform within the first 100 days in office was one of the promises in the APNU+AFC campaign manifesto.

Khemraj Ramjattan

Ramjattan stressed that the AFC, which is part of the APNU+AFC coalition government, has not in any way departed from the principles that brought its founding members together. Ramjattan attempted to explain that “concrete situations… especially financial challenges and changed circumstances” might be making it challenging for the party to accomplish certain things they had promised the people.

He explained that having entered government, he has learned that “democracy is bureaucracy.” According to the politician, even in more developed democracies, such as the United States, certain changes take time.

“There is no hidden agenda. When things appear to be delayed in Guyana we feel there is something suspicious but that is not true,” Ramjattan said. He offered the same explanation for why there has been a two-year delay in the establishment of the Local Government Commission.

Executive Member of the AFC David Patterson, in response to questions about the party’s commitment to constitutional reform, noted that the process has “gotten past hurdles and is moving apace.”

He explained that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has worked and surmounted hurdles to table a bill in Parliament to see a Constitutional Reform Commission established.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Local Government Commission, Patterson noted that this is an issue which has engaged Cabinet. He explained that his party has nominated a member of good standing with knowledge of local governance to sit on the commission. Though he would not name the nominee, Patterson claimed that the establishment of the much delayed commission is “imminent.” “I expect no later than the end of next month. The opposition has identified their nominees, the standing committee of appointments have approved a nominee and Cabinet has discussed it extensively,” Patterson said.

For over a year, the government has refused to identify its three nominees for the Commission. In April 2016, the Committee of Appointments named Andrew Garnett, of the Guyana Local Government Officers’ Union as the nominee from the trade unions, while in July, 2016, the Leader of the Opposition identified former Georgetown town clerk Carol Sooba and former local government ministers Norman Whittaker and Clinton Collymore as his three nominees for the commission.

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