Burnham Constitution must go for Guyana!

The Burnham Constitution continues to reap havoc on the sensibilities on all those who love freedom and democracy in Guyana. The Burnham Constitution is riddled with dictatorship-like powers. By the way, that is exactly why Burnham constructed that constitution the way he did. And that is why no party in power wants to make any substantial amendments to it. It was written to keep whoever is in power, in power for very long. All Guyanese would remember that during the Ramotar years, PPP was pushing for the Amelia Falls Hydro Project. The IDB wanted to see support from the Opposition, as well, the PPP did not have the votes in parliament to pass the overall funding for the project.
This led the PPP to seek the blessing from the then independent and objective AFC. However, Ramjattan and his gang were siding with Granger and his APNU bunch and they were asking to see the how the exorbitant figures for the project were arrived at. The PPP held out that that was inside information and they would not divulge the costing structure of the project. However, the PPP kept pushing for the project. They held several high-powered consultations. They had all the heads of the religious community meet at the President residence. The idea was to convince them that the hydro project – PPP style – was necessary and viable. The hopes were that the spiritual leaders would buy the PPP’s sales pitch and go back to their congregations and sell it to their parishioners. That planned failed miserably.
Then the PPP called a massive consultation at the Arthur Chung Convention Center, which saw thousands coming out to hear the PPP big-guns again sell the project, complete with PowerPoint presentations and handouts. That too failed miserably. However, when the PPP pressure was too much for Ramjattan, he held his nose and made a deal with Jagdeo (Ramotar was just a Jagdeo rubber stamp). The deal was that Ramjattan and his gang would sign on to the Amelia Falls project, if Jagdeo would set up the Public Procurement Commission, without his Cabinet ‘No Objection’ clause. Mr. Ramotar wanted the deal. It would have seen the largest infrastructural project in the history of Guyana, being launched during his Presidency. So Ramotar was willing to move forward with the idea but Jagdeo would have none of it.
The monies that the PPP could skim off the contracts awarded by the State was far more than the monies that had bloated the cost of the Amelia Falls project. So even though Jadgeo looked like he was pushing hard to make the Amelia project a reality in Guyana, he was more concerned about the potential loss of billions of dollars from contract kickbacks. So while what Ramjattan was offering make logical, patriotic, nationalistic, sense, Jagdeo refused the deal and there was nothing Ramotar could do.
When Ramjattan realized that Jagdeo was not going to accept his logical compromise, of setting up the Public Procurement Commission, without the Cabinet’s ‘No Objection’ clause, Ramjattan hatched the plan to move a ‘No Confidence’ motion against the PPP government. The AFC gang met with the APNU bunch and they collated on the ‘No Confidence’ motion against the PPP.
Sensing his impending embarrassment, of being the first President in the entire Caribbean, to be removed from office in such a humiliating way, Ramotar found in the Burnham Constitution a life-line. Hidden deep within the Constitution was a sub section which allows for the President to Prorogue the Parliament. So in 2013 Ramotar prorogued the Parliament and sent Ramjattan and his gang and Granger and his bunch home for six months. As the time the prorogation was ending Ramotar – still fearing the threatening ‘No Confidence’ motion against him – called snap elections. That is the metal of the Burnham Constitution. It is designed to work for whoever is in the driver’s seat.
Fast forward to 2017. Jagdeo, knowing that he will be the PPP General Secretary and positioning himself as a third-term President, tries to hurry up and replacement of the Elections Commission (EC) head. So he sends his best six picks for the President to choose one. However, President Granger suspects that all the six persons are likely to be stooges of Jagdeo, so he delays the process by making Jagdeo request curricular vitaes (CV) from all of the six nominees. President Granger further delays the process by making it appear as if he is reviewing the CV’s, while all along he was only waiting for the right occasion to humiliate Jagdeo.
The President waited until all the Press personnel were making merry at his home for their annual brunch and he drop the rejection of all of Jagdeo’s picks like a bombshell. President Granger diluted the hopes of Jagdeo by rejecting ever single name on the list. Nandlall is crying “foul”. He said that President Granger is planning to rig the 2020 elections. What Nandlall is doing, however, is just a smoke screen and red herring for the PPP, unformed supporters.
Nandlall knows full well that the Burnham Constitution – that he (Nandlall) embraced – allows for the sitting President to reject two sets of six names submitted by the Opposition Leader, after which the President may select someone he deems suitable for the position as Elections Commission head. The President can also refuse to accept the resignation of the current EC Head. Back in 2013 it was Nandlall who found the

clause in the Burnham Constitution that made Ramotar prorogue the parliament. In 2017 someone found the clause in the Burnham Constitution that says the President does not have to accept any of the Opposition’s nominations for Elections Commission’s head.
The PNC is beating the PPP at their own game by using the Burnham Constitution that they (the PPP) refused to substantially reform in their 23 years in power. The Burnham Constitution is now back in the hands of those who were trained to use it. When the PPP had the opportunity to amend it, they refused, choosing rather to embrace it for their own selfish reasons and egotistical gains. Now it has returned to haunt them.
The United Republican Party (URP) believes that the Burnham Constitution needs to be immediately reformed. We believe that it was designed and written, not with the betterment of Guyana at heart but rather to keep repressive, non-patriotic, politicians in power. Let the records reflect that the URP will immediately call for a total reform of the Constitution, so that Guyana can move away from the regressive, oppressive, nuances that are imbedded in the Burnham Constitution.