Constitution silent on consultation – PNCR

Kaieteur News

June 4, 2004

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“THE PNCR wishes to state categorically that at no time did the President seek to consult with Mr. Robert Corbin on any aspect of the Commission of Inquiry. The Office of the President merely sought to inform Mr. Corbin of the President’s decision to name the Commission.”

PNCR Member of Parliament Deryck Bernard made this disclosure to the media yesterday at the party’s weekly press conference.

Mr. Bernard said that his party was setting the record straight as regards the attempts by President Bharrat Jagdeo to contact the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin, prior to the naming of the Commission of Inquiry into the death squads.

“There is genuine misunderstanding in the minds of some citizens over the nature of this communication. Consultation is an altogether different process.”

President Jagdeo, and later, some of his legal advisers, had said that the President had no need to consult with Mr. Corbin over the appointment of the Presidential Commission. United States Ambassador to Guyana Roland Bullen also said that while he would not seek to impose American standards on the local situation he felt that the commission should be given a chance to function.

Yesterday, the PNCR said that it accepted that on the face of it the provisions are silent vis-ŕ-vis consultation but it argued strenuously that, in keeping with good and acceptable democratic norms and practices, a matter as nationally sensitive and poignant as the existence of state-sponsored death squads, cannot be dealt with unilaterally.

“The PNCR believes further that in the spirit of the new constitutional reforms emanating from the Herdmanston Accord and St. Lucia Statement which ushered in the 1999 Constitution Reform Commission process, a new ethos of inclusivity and consensus building was spawned, which was meant to usher in a dispensation of consensus democracy characterised by the dialogue and constructive engagement processes.

“It is therefore hypocritical, dangerous and distressing to hear the PPP/C government and its acolytes claim that there was no right of consultation required by law.”