Deliberate distracting ploys

first_imgOn September 19 at the Pegasus Hotel, a large group of Guyanese protested the illegality of the President and the APNU/AFC regime he leads. The protest action, safeguarded by the Constitution, could not have been surprising, given the fact that the regime made no effort to abide by the final ruling and consequential orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) regarding the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion (NCM).Having refused to respect the constitutional processes the NCM triggered, having sought recourse in the courts for the decision to be reversed and failed, and having made no effort to officially ask the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to consider an extension of the constitutional electoral timeline, the APNU/AFC coalition must have known that after September 18, it has no legal standing as a government. As such, it would be naïve to believe it would not be met with protests.The President’s attendance at the function at the Pegasus was public knowledge. The protesters were within their rights to demonstrate their non-acceptance of what became a dictatorial regime as of September 19. Prior to that, PPP supporters, along with other Guyanese, have been picketing APNU/AFC officials across the country for their refusal to respect the Constitution.The People’s National Congress (PNC), which is literally the Government shrouded in an outfit called the coalition, has an unflattering history of oppressive rule while in government between 1964 and 1992. During that period, the Constitution was made a mockery of, evident from just one of many actions – the flying of that party’s flag in the compound of the Supreme Court. That tri-colour palm tree flag flew higher than the country’s Golden Arrowhead.Such an action not only demonstrated total disregard for the Constitution and the separation of powers, but unfettered paramountcy of the PNC party and its supreme reign over Guyana. No one, regardless whether they lived through that period or not, would want to see the return of such a tyrannical era. With Guyana on the cusp of an oil and gas economy, undemocratic rule would undermine related development and benefits expected to redound. It would also unnecessarily place the country at risk for international sanctions.The latter has already been hinted by leading members of the international community. Their condemnation of the APNU/AFC’s unconstitutional regime as of September 19 is unambiguous. The Commonwealth Secretariat has also called for the restoration of constitutional rule, as well as many local civil society organisations. Standing up to an illegality was therefore what the protesters were doing on September 19 in the presence of a large Police contingent.There was no riot and no one was harmed, yet, the presence of a fully armed riot squad as they were at a candle-light vigil outside the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on September 23. Interestingly, on September 18, when an alleged bandit was reportedly shot by the Police, tyres and other objects were burnt in the City street. The need for the riot squad to intervene may have seemingly not occurred to the Police.That aside, in the presence of the Police and with many who live-streamed the protest, there is no evidence presented to suggest that the protesters threatened to overturn a Minister’s vehicle as claimed by APNU/AFC. On the contrary, there are allegations that the driver of the vehicle may have wanted to drive through the crowd.The allegation of wanting to overturn the vehicle has since become a priority talking point for Mr Granger and his team, who have described the protesters as hooligans. Subsequent veiled threats have not gone unnoticed.The PPP has since labelled the allegations to overturn the vehicle as manufactured lies. It should be noted that from 1997 to 2001, there were many incidents of violent protests during which people were beaten and robbed and businesses looted and set ablaze; protests that were not organised by the PPP.That’s just one period of our history made reference to in the context of hooliganism. It, therefore, becomes very worrying that the man entrusted with the reigns of leadership would refer to Guyanese who constitutionally voiced their disapproval over his continual transgression of the Constitution as hooligans.That in itself speaks to his intolerance of being called out and another step towards a seemingly burgeoning dictatorship. The answer as to who really broke the law could not be clearer and the APNU/AFC’s disregard for the Constitution must be of concern to all. Leading members of the international community have indicated that the prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and hinders their ability to support Guyana’s development needs.This is a time when disrespect for the Constitution must be brought to an end. This is a time when Guyanese from all backgrounds must rally to safeguard democracy so as to ensure that future developments are not compromised. This is a time when all Guyanese must raise their voices in unison to expose Mr Granger and APNU/AFC’s deliberate efforts to distract from their disregard of the Constitution.Many have seen the spurious allegations and labelling of the protesters as hooligans as just that— deliberate distraction for a particular reason. Is the increased armed Police detail to shield Mr Granger from protesters a distraction from combating crime?last_img

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