For this Issue’s Commentary, I was all set to write about recently experienced profound disappointments on Guyana Tourism, in addition to sharing my thoughts on the Indian cricket circus that has come into Toronto in the form of the Global T20 Tournament! However, Freddie Kissoon’s Kaieteur News Commentary on the impending historic Caribbean Court of Justice ruling on whether Guyana’s President should be allowed to hold office for more than the current two term limitation, was simply, just too worthy not to be shared. Enjoy! – Tony McWatt
Guest Editorial: Worth Repeating
Kaieteur News: June 26, 2018
By Freddie Kissoon
Whether the Caribbean Court of Justice rules in favour of or against Bharrat Jagdeo today on the presidential term restriction, the farce of this court case will enter the political history books of this country. It may be appropriate to use the adjective “depraved” in front of farce.
The Constitution allows for a president to serve two terms only whether consecutive or separated by ten, fifteen, twenty years. Bharrat Jagdeo served two elected tenures of five years each and had two extra years because President Janet Jagan appointed him to succeed her.
He had three years of de facto power because the Ramotar presidency was a Medvedev syndrome. It was a total of 15 years of control.
Not satisfied with fifteen years of hegemony, Jagdeo took the advice of some lawyer(s) and came up with the idea that the National Assembly through a two/thirds majority vote could not have inserted into the constitution, the term restriction. It had to be done by a referendum. So he went to court.
He went to court in the belief that the PPP was invincible and it could not lose general elections and that since he is the monarch of the PPP then if he wins the court case he can run again.
It must be remembered that nowhere in any part of Jagdeo’s mind that when he took the step of the legal challenge, he believed that the PPP could lose power. When he won the court battle in Guyana, it was too late in coming. He could not run in 2015 because Justice Ian Chang’s decision was not given in time. So he chose Ramotar.
Then Jagdeo got a shock of his life – the “unthinkable” occurred – the PPP lost power in 2015. The loss of Jagdeo’s hegemony by the defeat of the Medvedev syndrome devastated ambition of Jagdeo. A new government would appeal Justice Chang’s decision and even go to the CCJ. That is what has happened.
Now for the farce. From the time he challenged the term restriction, Jagdeo had made himself a centre piece of depravity, comic strip and hypocrisy. Two ugly dimensions were graphically emboldened on the comic strip. One was the incessant assertions by Jagdeo that he was not interested in contesting presidential elections for a third time. So who wanted to remove this constitutional amendment?
No one knows the answer to that question to this day. When the court rules today, we still would not know who wanted the constitutional change thrown out. Like Shaggy, Mr. Jagdeo said, “it wasn’t me.” Ramotar said it wasn’t him. None of the PPP leaders spoke in agreement of removing the two-term limitation. In fact, not one major player in the PPP came forward and said they welcomed the court challenge.
In fact, some seminal players in the PPP publicly stated that they accept the term limit amendment. The mystery is deeper than the resting place of the Malaysian flight MH370. Here is why.
No one in Guyana has publicly spoken of their involvement in this court matter. The man in whose name the writ was filed, Cedric Richardson, is a puzzle too. He has not publicly spoken at all on his legal battle ever since it was in front of Justice Chang. No one knows who he really is except that we know he lives in a very modest house in Laing Avenue in South Georgetown. One can assume by his standards, he is not a moneyed man. One can assume, too, that he cannot be the financier of the three court battles – High Court, Court of Appeal, CCJ.
The farce of this case became depraved when it hit the CCJ. Richardson had some expensive Caribbean lawyers arguing his challenge. Are we to believe a man from Laing Avenue in South Georgetown has an obsessive determination to overturn this constitutional amendment and he spends big money to do it? The answer is no.
The long attempt to overturn the two-term restriction was pioneered and financed by none other than Bharrat Jagdeo himself. But the entire episode shows what a strategic blunderer he is.
A most commonsensical thing to do was to get a businessman, university lecturer, engineer, an NGO head, or doctor to openly confront the constitutional amendment and to openly declare that it has nothing to do with Jagdeo wanting to run for a third time. In such a situation, the farcical nature of the situation is removed. The entire affair is indicative of Jagdeo’s power intoxication. This man is obsessed with power. He should be stopped.