In an effort to maintain political objectivity I chose to write this letter sometime after the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the issue of Presidential term limits in the Guyana Constitution, to avoid becoming a victim to the obvious sensational atmosphere that the ruling engendered.
When the news broke that the CCJ had ruled that the decisions of former acting Guyana Chief Justice, Ian Chang and two members of Guyana’s Court of Appeal, former Acting Chancellor, Carl Singh and Justice B.S Roy, could not be upheld, the hope that former President Bharrat Jagdeo harboured to contest for the Presidency of Guyana for a third and more terms, were dashed to the ground. The CCJ’s ruling gave real meaning to Guyana’s Constitutional provision which limits to two terms, the number of times anyone in Guyana can occupy the position of President of the country. The CCJ ruling also provided tremendous relief to a large number of the populace who had bought into the PPP and their allies’ propaganda, and had agonized over the thought of Jagdeo winning the 2020 General and Regional elections and in the process once again becoming a millstone around their necks.
Supporters of Jagdeo are contending that his critics and the coalition are fearful of him winning the 2020 elections. This to my mind is a misplaced view of the reality. The contention that Jagdeo is unbeatable is erroneous. My judgement is that given his known history, he would have been an easier candidate for the APNU+AFC coalition to defeat. It is my strongly held view that his presence in the process will mobilize and galvanize coalition supporters to turn out and vote massively against him.
Ironically, the national mood of relief, which I referred to above, was graphically reflected in the comment given to the media by former President, and PPP Executive member Mr. Donald Ramotar, soon after the ruling was made public. Mr. Ramotar was reported to have said, “I accept it…I do not think it (the ruling) was a bad thing”. These words summed up how the majority of Guyanese felt. Indeed, the ruling was seen as good for the country, and I will add, it was sweet music in the ears of the PPP old guard and the younger generation who are filled with presidential aspirations. Jagdeo’s ambition to be president for the third time and, maybe for life, is now dead and buried by the historic CCJ ruling.
However, even as he announced his acceptance of the CCJ’s ruling, Jagdeo engaged in political metamorphosis, when he said that he had grown tired of presidential duties, and is now an aging man who needs time for himself. We are now being asked to believe that this power-drunk politician, during the entire period that the matter of the third term engaged the attention of the courts, had no interest in becoming president of the Republic, for the third time. However, the lengths to which he and his cronies went to achieve a favourable third term ruling from the courts, demonstrated something quite different from his utterances that he was bored by presidential duties.
The fact that they spent millions of dollars in legal fees, for lawyers to advocate on his behalf, throughout the process right up to the CCJ, speaks of a desperate politician in pursuit of power at any cost. Jagdeo is contemptuous of the nation’s collective intelligence and sees Guyanese as being infantile.
If the truth is told even the political naive among us knew that Cedric Richardson was fronting for Jagdeo when he brought the lawsuit. All reports in the media had indicated that Richardson is not endowed with a lot of money and therefore, was neither in a position nor, would have had an interest in this political/constitutional matter to the extent of dispensing huge sums of money (which he did not possess) in order to get the questions surrounding the issue, clarified. An impartial observer will conclude that Richardson, was nothing but a pawn in this “game” and was well paid to lend his name to what eventually turned out to be a misadventure by Jagdeo and his cronies. The clandestine relationship that Jagdeo and his cronies had with Richardson in order to achieve a political goal and at the same time have deniability, was consistent with the tactic he had employed in his “so-called war against crime” beginning in (2002) and the Buxton crisis in which the recruiting of elements in the criminal underworld to carry out state-sponsored extrajudicial executions and other criminal acts and denying state involvement was his mode of operations.
In the context of Guyanese politics, one would have expected an Indian supporter of the PPP to eagerly front the third term campaign for Jagdeo, instead, they used an urban African as the political scapegoat. In doing this they sought to convey (1) the impression that Jagdeo enjoyed support beyond his Indian base; and (2) attempted to humiliate the African Community, by demonstrating that he has the power, in and out of governmental office, to find one of them to do his bidding.
While legal experts are saying that the CCJ ‘s ruling in effect bars Jagdeo from running in the 2020 General and Regional elections, not only as his party’s Presidential Candidate but also the party’s Prime Ministerial Candidate I am not convinced that the PPP leader shares that view. Word is out that Bharrat Jagdeo has assembled a high-powered team of lawyers, presumably led by Anil Nandlall, who is researching this matter with the intention of filing a legal challenge at the appropriate time. He is signaling here that he intends to use every means at his disposal to regain the seat of President of Guyana which he so badly craves.