Neutral third party needed for meaningful constitutional reform

first_imgDear Editor,Constitutional reform in Guyana is not likely to happen anytime soon and if it does, it will not be anything substantial. One night in 2012 after my TV programme at Channel 9, I was invited by a group of PNC stalwarts to have a drink at the shop across the road from the TV station. (I drank Vita Malts). The conversation revolved around the 1980 (Burnham) Constitution. The general consensus that night from the PNCites was that nothing was wrong with the Constitution but rather, those who were managing the Constitution. PPP was in power at the time.Those calling for constitutional reform need to understand the powers vested in the purveyors of the Constitution at any given time. The Guyana Constitution is unlike any other constitution. \Not even the international, developed countries have such an autocratically constructed constitution. Our Constitution is so flawed, that the only time any of the politicians have any problems with it is when they are not in power. The Constitution is designed to benefit the Administration in power. When those PNC comrades told me that nothing was wrong with the constitution, they were very critical of how the PPP was using it.It would be just a couple years after that conversation that President Donald Ramotar would find a clause in the (Burnham) Constitution that allowed him to sidestep a No-Confidence Motion and prorogue the Parliament. His gamble did not pay off and he lost power. Now the custodians of the Constitution are largely the students and underlings of the author of the Constitution. And to many of these people, ‘Fat Boy’ was a god. The spoken and unspoken position of these Burnhamites is that you do not tamper with the writings of a god.One can then imagine the herculean bravery that would have to be summoned for one Burnhamite to suggest to the other Burnhamites that the ‘word of god’ needed to be adjusted. First he’d be ignored. Then he’d be laughed at. Then he’d be fought tooth and nail. Then he’ll lose.Has anyone ever hear a PNCite articulate any inconsistency of any of the Kabaka’s policies? It will not happen. Try as you might, using any amount of logical and intelligent formula, you will not get a Burnhamite to acquiesce to any failed policies of President Burnham. You would faster get President Jagdeo to release his financial statements than get a student of Burnham to find a single fault in his administrative behaviours.And for that single reason, no PNC insider – no matter how high up the pecking order – would dare initiate a discussion suggesting an amendment to the (Burnham) Constitution. Such an admission emanating from anyone under the shade of the Palm Tree would amount to blasphemy, disrespect or even sacrilege.It was this constitution that kept the PNC in power for 28 long years and it is this self-same constitution that kept the PPP in power for 23 long years. Now the PNC (largely) are back in the saddle. Why would any autocratic-leaning leader, from any party, in his or her right mind, tamper with such a substantial document? Why weaken the powers that are legally available to you, when you don’t have to?If the AFC had remained objective and independent, the next big thing in the scope of things, after the fall of the PPP, would have been constitutional reform. One would remember that this was the AFC’s clarion cry when they were independent and free. Now that they have merged with the APNU with big brother PNC running the show, they have either gotten quiet on the issue, or someone is shouting other things a lot louder than they are calling for this needed reform. We hear Nigel Hughes shouting for change, but sometimes your voice fails when you alone are doing the shouting.One would also note that the PPP is very silent on the issue of constitutional reform. That is because they have studied and internalised the (Burnham) Constitution and had laid very comfortably on it for 23 years. They knew it so well that when the Burnhamites thought they had brought down the PPP Government with their AFC-sponsored No Confidence Motion, the PPP whipped out a prorogual clause that send shivers down the collective spines of the PNCites. I bet that the PPP is au fait with quite a lot more manoeuvres that are hidden between the lines of that (Burnham) Constitution. So don’t expect any hurray from them on constitutional reform. Rather, they would love to get their hands back on that self-same Constitution and govern with it ‘as is’.Therefore, any reform to the Constitution will be long in coming and if it does come, it will be only negligible. The presidential executive powers will not be reduced.The presidential non-subjectability to the courts will remain. The provision that prohibits the coalition of political parties, after an election, will stay. After all, these are the juicy parts of the Constitution, which allow for the complete domination of one party over the other and which sanction the inexcusable behaviour of the President, whenever he or she feels like.That is why folks were excited about the AFC when they started making those logical arguments about constitutional reform. That is why they were awarded seats in Parliament. The masses saw light in what they were proposing. They would have been the ones to pressure the bigger, power-hungry parties to make these commonsensical adjustments to this archaic, autocratic, oppressive document. But alas, the AFC has frizzled and has now become silent on this matter.Editor, I wonder if it is not time for another independent party to follow where the AFC was leading? Maybe it’s time for a third party to enter the stage and pledge to never merge with any of the larger parties.A third party would be able to hold the Parliament accountable to the Guyanese people and have them institute changes to the Constitution that we all know are reasonable and needed. I believe that only when there is a third party, Guyanese will see any substantial reform made to the (Burnham) Constitution.Yours faithfully,Pastor WendellJeffreylast_img read more

‘They’re a disgrace!’ – Spurs kids rant at Arsenal

first_imgThe biggest north London derby in years takes place on Saturday at White Hart Lane, with tensions between the fans at breaking point as both clubs go hunting for the Premier League crown.Supporters from both sides are born into hating their arch-rivals, but what do the youngest fans really think about their bitter enemies?YouTube pranksters Woody and Kleiny asked some young Spurs fans what they thought of Arsenal ahead of the derby.The response was predictably entertaining, with one young Tottenham fan claiming Arsenal “don’t eat their vegetables”.Check out our mates Woody and Kleiny on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to talkSPORT for more sports entertainment.last_img read more

Andy Murray likely to leave Australian Open early

first_imgAndy Murray will leave the Australian Open early if his wife goes into labor prematurely.Kim Sears isn’t expecting until mid-February, but Murray told the Daily Mail newspaper that he’s prepared to withdraw from the first major of the year if she goes into labor early.”I’d go home. For sure, yes,” Murray said in Wednesday’s edition. “I want to make sure at the beginning I am there as much as I can be to try and help out, just be there for whatever is really required of me.”The Australian Open, where Murray has reached the final four times but never won, runs from Jan. 18-31.Regardless of his result, Murray said he’s taking off all of February, and won’t play again until the first round of the Davis Cup in early March at home against Japan. Britain will be defending the trophy that Murray led them to last month.The second-ranked Murray said he is looking forward to becoming a father.”I am excited about that,” he said. “People have asked me, ‘Do you think it will be a distraction?’ It might be a distraction but it’s a good distraction.”It’s actually not good to all the time be just concentrating on tennis and your training all of the time. It is important … when you finish on the practice court, be able to just go away and be with your friends and your family.”Murray also reunited with coach Amelie Mauresmo, and her first child Aaron, in Dubai this week. Mauresmo gave birth in August and Murray hadn’t seen her since Wimbledon in July.advertisement”I really enjoy working with her,” he said. “The last six months not seeing her, it’s just nice to have her back as part of the team, and get that continuity going again.”Murray will no longer work with former Swedish player Jonas Bjorkman, who stepped in as cover for Mauresmo, and is seeking another full-time member of his coaching team.”Thanks to Jonas for helping out this year,” Murray posted on his Facebook account. “I enjoyed working with one of the nicest guys on the tour, bring on 2016.”last_img read more