Guyana facing its worst crisis since Independence – Ralph Ramkarran
Former Speaker of the National Assembly and Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran has warned that Guyana is facing one of its major crises since independence with President David Granger’s delay in naming a date for elections following the December 21 No Confidence vote.
“Now we have, perhaps, one of the biggest crises in our history. It is not violent, and hopefully will not be, but this is what we face.
“Come the 21st of March, the last day on which elections should be held – which clearly is not going to be held – the Government becomes illegal,” he stated.
He was at the time addressing a forum Wednesday evening.
Mr Ramkarran has pointed to the situation that would arise if no elections are called when the 90-day period expires since the No Confidence motion was passed on December 21.
“It cannot exist lawfully as a Government – it shouldn’t be there (but) it will be existing.
“It cannot lawfully convene the Parliament – it might. But it cannot lawfully convene the Parliament to pass any law.
So, what happens? We have a crisis.
“And nobody knows what is going to happen – we have a dictatorship.”
The High Court has ruled that the No Confidence motion was validly passed but the Government has appealed the decision.
However, the effect of the No Confidence motion has not been paused as the Chief Justice refused to grant an order for a stay and the Speaker of the National Assembly has accepted the rule of the Chief Justice and acknowledged that the time is running.
At the forum, organised by the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, Mr Ramkarran sought to examine what could happen if the country heads into a constitutional crisis.
“If external countries behave to Guyana the way they behave to other countries, I don’t know whether we will expect to see visas being cancelled, assets if you have them – and you know members of the Government are earning lots of money now – frozen.”
Mr Ramkarran further sought to explain the possible actions foreign Governments could take against Guyana.
“The diplomatic community, especially the three large countries – the United States, Great Britain and Canada and the European Union, will withdraw their activity.
“Diplomatic activity will come to halt.
“…the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank will stop lending monies.
“…everything will grind to a halt.
“We don’t know if the banks will be able to send monies abroad.
“If they stop dealing with Guyana, the banking system will collapse, will seize up.
“Financial activity cannot go on…imports and exports cannot take place.
“So, a major calamity is brewing unless the government decides what to do.”
Mr Ramkarran, a long-time politician, said that Guyana has faced crisis after crisis since independence, situations he said Guyanese did not deserve. These he said, was as a result of the racial divide.
“Indians are afraid when Africans are in power and Africans are afraid when Indians are in power. Both for the same reasons – each side feels they are discriminated against, marginalised, what is has is being taken away.
“And I tell you comrades, the same fears that Indians have, the same identical fears Africans have.”
He said that the problem and the solution were known by Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham at the time the two of them worked together in the early days of the Peoples Progressive Party.
“They saw this problem; that is why they created the type of PPP that they did – a PPP that had united the races, united the classes.
“They knew what was the solution – to have a united party; it didn’t last.
“And they all know today what is the solution – to bring these races together by a process of constitutional reform which makes they work together.
“That is the only solution to end these crises.”
For now, Mr Ramkarran said to avert a constitutional crisis there needs to be a date for elections.
“The solution to the problem is to have an agreement with the Leader of the Opposition for a date for elections – maybe an extended date.
“I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will not begrudge some extra time to give the Elections Commission the opportunity to get itself in order.”
Mr Ramkarran has formed his own political party and calling for a new united Guyana away from the politics of race which has divided Guyana over the past five decades.