On the issue of the Integrity Commission, the Leader of the Opposition by way of his own statement undermines the spirit and intent of the Guyana Constitution. The statement in reference reported him saying that these appointments did not require his agreement, just consultation, [and] the President could have moved ahead (‘Jagdeo offers no objection to Integrity Commission nominees’ SN, February 9).
Consultation does not mean the President calling the Leader of the Opposition and informing him of the intent to appoint the named persons; it means such engagement will include opinions from the latter, after which the decision will be finalised and implemented. To say that the President could have gone ahead and made the appointment in the absence of the Leader of the Opposition’s opinion or knowledge is to undermine the same principle the office-holder is asking to be respected and upheld in other areas of decision-making.
By awaiting the Leader of the Opposition’s response to the proposed names for the Integrity Commission, the President was acting consistent with the spirit and intent of what “consultation” constitutes and as is expected by the Constitution.
What is troubling in this society is not only an absence of knowledge and understanding of the Guyana Constitution, and of the spirit and intent under which it was framed, but most importantly an absence of an understanding of how each article is structured grammatically and the meaning of important enshrined concepts like ‘consultation’, ‘agreement,’ ‘involvement’ and ‘decision-making.’ This fundamental deficiency continues to be a bugbear in governance and the relationship fostered among the people with those whom they elect to manage their business and represent their interest.
The Constitution and its office-holders were never intended to preside over the masses or their business by diktat, but through engagement in a spirit of basic human decency in the management of the affairs of state, protecting and advancing their welfare. Our politicians have to go back to the drawing board to address the existing deficiencies in understanding how articles, conventions, charters and declarations are crafted, and the spirit and intent behind their conceptualisations. Most constitutions are guided by the principles that exist in universal declarations, international conventions and charters. Political machinations must not be placed above respecting these sacred tenets.