By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
President David Granger is engaging in a very unsettling “game” that involves misguiding the nation on issues of national importance. So said Attorney-at-law, Sanjeev Datadin as he highlighted the fact that the President failed to definitively name a date for elections during his address to the nation earlier when he said that the “earliest possible date” is March 2. In fact, Datadin said that it is not constitutionally possible, under the circumstances, for the President to name a date without dissolving Parliament.
Also, during an interview with this news agency, Datadin was keen to point out that there are many other misfortunes that were highlighted in the President’s speech.
For one, Datadin was quick to state that it was evident that the government is cherry-picking constitutional provisions for the furtherance of its agenda while ignoring key provisions that actually apply to the situation at hand.
The lawyer said that a fundamental principle of the legal interpretation of the Constitution is that it must be read as a whole.
He said that with the President now saying that the National Assembly should reconvene to extend the life of his government, it is evident that his advisors do not understand that the time has already passed for such possibilities to even be considered.
Datadin said that the three provisions of Article 106 are that two-thirds of the National Assembly is required to extend its life, that the President must dissolve Parliament and name a date for elections and that those things must happen within three months in order for the government to remain until the next President is installed.
According to Datadin, those provisions are married to each other. Therefore, it would not be constitutional to make use of any of the provisions without the other. Since the three-month prescribed timeline has elapsed, Datadin thinks that the other provisions can longer be invoked.
“And, article 95 of the Constitution has now become relevant, the office is vacant and the Chancellor should become the Head of State,” the lawyer stated.
He continued, “The time has elapsed and the opposition cannot, in accordance with anything to do with 106, extend the life of the government. And I do not know of another provision that would allow them back.”
In layman terms, Datadin explained, “If you were applying to a university, you have to apply in a certain time, you have to provide your documents within a certain time and you had to pay your fees. If you do not do any one of those three, your application is not complete. So you cannot do it when you want to do it.”
Datadin surmised that the problem with the government is that it is cherry-picking too much.
“They are reading one and two pieces of the Constitution and saying that that is what the Constitution says. That is not fair. You got to read the Constitution as a whole. You cannot apply the part of the Constitution that does not relate to a No-Confidence Motion and impose it upon the situation where there is a valid No-Confidence Motion. You cannot do the two together. If you do so it would be contradictory because the two things were not intended to go together,” said Datadin.
He also opined that the President is playing a game, “conning people.”
“He is saying that he is naming a date without dissolving parliament when the constitution says very clearly that he shall, by proclamation dissolve parliament and name a date. He has to dissolve parliament in order to name a date. What he led people to do was name a date but not dissolve parliament,” said Datadin.
The lawyer continued, “Those two things are not consistent. Those two things offend the Constitution. It is creating more mayhem and madness. The President is contradictory in what he is saying to the nation. He is relying on provisions that do not apply and is ignoring the provisions that do apply because those do not suit him.”
Also, Datadin said that in the first place, the President tremendously erred when he insisted that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must inform him of its readiness before he can fix a date for special elections as mandated by the constitution.
Datadin said that the President ought to have, in keeping with the constitution, dissolved Parliament and should have named a date before September, 18. “Then, if GECOM needed more time it could have exercised its authority under the constitution to extend the time.”