This week we asked the people about their thoughts on the Caribbean Court of Justice upholding the law on the presidential term limit. Their responses are as follows:
Ascena Jacobs- ‘The constitution (Amendment) (No. 4) Act 2000 altered Article 90 of the Constitution to disqualify citizens who have already served 2 terms as President. It is important to note that although Article 66 states that Parliament may alter the constitution, this Article has an entrenchment provision and cannot be altered without referendum. Given the aforementioned, the amendment does not diminish the democratic right of the electorate in electing a person of their choice as President. Sovereignty is placed in the representatives there. We have the right to choose any candidate, but that right is not infinite, as article 90 restricts a president to two terms.
Constitutions are living instruments and there must be flexibility for change to meet an evolving society such as Guyana. With that being said, the CCJ ruling on the third term case ensures our democracy and the rule of law and it is fit and proper.’
Alyea Williams- ‘I strongly support the third term ruling that was handed down by the CCJ. The limitation imposed by this initially controversial constitutional amendment will operate as a bar against power-drunk politicians seeking to preserve their dictatorships indefinitely. A wise man once said that corruption is the enemy of development and of good governance. Hence, it must be gotten rid of by any means necessary. I am therefore of the opinion that such presidential term limits will help to pave the way towards a nation free from oppression and open to progression. Our country needs a completely new outlook and this can only be attained by safeguarding against monotonous authority.’
Denica Henry- ‘In relation to the CCJ’s ruling, I support it. I believe that a two term ruling is quite sufficient for an elected leader to make a positive impact in his or her country. We need fresh ideas and optimism ever so often and constituents have the right to voice their dissatisfaction with how things are going and vote for someone else who will carry on the mandate of the party. This isn’t a one man country. What’s the point of having a party with so many capable members who don’t have the chance to contest for the leadership of the country? That attitude is a stifling one that should not be condoned in Guyana.’
Dason Anthony– `I’m quite fine with the decision that was made, there needs to be some sort of order when it comes to limitations to presidents. In other countries we would see that there is no democracy, because some presidents are able to run for office for years until they die. In Guyana I don’t want to see that because of course we’re claiming to be a democratic country’.
Nazir Mohammed– ‘I think the CCJ made the right decision. If a president serves his two terms that’s good, ten years is enough, give other persons a chance, and give the younger ones a chance to make a change.’
Royda Hatton- ‘I think we have dealt with this situation in our courts here. Our courts made a ruling and we should have accepted that. I don’t think we should have gone to the CCJ for this because that is our issue and we should have dealt with it right here.’
`I think it’s fair because right now Mr. Granger and the coalition is in and persons don’t want them in so I think that persons should have a fair chance at running in the office. I don’t think persons should stay in for three terms, four terms and not give a next party a chance for change or whatever the case is’.
‘I think that the CCJ ruling was fair and that they should not do it, they should give people a chance because change needs to be taken place.’
‘I personally welcome term limits but I do believe that one should be able to run again after a break of 10 years. I have noticed that the PNC has exulted in the recent decision as a victory for them over the PPP, but I view it as a win for Guyana on the whole and if I may add I hope the list system is soon abolished from our constitution.’
‘For me, the CCJ ruling on the presidential term limit is perhaps one of the most instrumental judgments handed down by their lordships. Article 90(2) of our Constitution explicitly states that “a person elected as President… is only eligible to be re-elected once.” This simply means that any person who is elected as President is only elected to run for office for two terms. But it is important to point out that article 90 in no way contravenes articles one and nine and by no means infringes on the right of an electorate to select whomever they wish to be President- only with a reasonable restriction on the amount of times that same person may occupy office. However, in the same breath, the presidential term limit does not seek to evade the principles underlying democracy but rather to enhance what democracy entails by imposing reasonable restrictions on the election of a President and to uphold political fairness and participation. As such it is my humble view that the amendment to the Constitution to preclude the President from running for more than two terms in office is valid and therefore constitutional.’