Constitutional reform: final lessons from America

Last week, I argued that since the transfer of government to the People / Civic Progressive Party (PPP / C) after the March 2020 elections, she and A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU + AFC) have been constitutional promotions and electoral reforms to prevent the repetition of alleged criminal incidents associated with attempts to manipulate those elections. In considering similar claims now being made in the basis of vaunted democracy, the United States of America, I came upon a few lessons which may be of Guyanese interest. I assumed that a more formal presidential transition and legal electoral arrangements as existing in the USA could be of huge benefit to the electoral process in Guyana. However, Guyana’s political nature that encourages ethnic entrepreneurship is the main problem, and this will not be resolved until more inclusive national governance arrangements are put in place.

In my previous article I said that, unlike the situation in Guyana, in Philadelphia the members of the elections commission have a four-year term limit that coincides with the election cycle, and today’s first lesson is about on this issue. The Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) is also multi-part based but according to article 225 of the Constitution its members appear to have a similar status to permanent public servants and some have argued that this should be changed to fixed-term appointments or something similar to the situation in Philadelphia.

The common argument is that, as we have seen in Guyana, party-based political arrangements can hinder decision-making, especially where the interests of a critical party are at stake. Furthermore, the presence of politicians on election commissions could undermine confidence in, for example, the security of ballot material. Multi-party governing bodies are also said to ‘produce discontent among minority parties who may be excluded from them’ ( However, many countries, which have ethnically polarized populations and are transitioning from a dictatorial system, have a shortage of impartial admissions to serve on governing bodies of elections. It is expected – and the controversy over the recent elections in Guyana makes clear – that commission members are usually party but it is also the case that they tend to check each other, making sure different sides do not take undue advantage. However, frequent turnover of members can be regulatory disruptive and members of these political party arrangements usually hold fixed-term positions which cannot be dismissed except for cause, such as a breach of their duties, or upon their nomination by nomination. authority.

The law in the state of Pennsylvania states, ‘In trials of contested nominations and elections, and in all cases for the investigation of primaries and elections, no person shall be allowed to withhold his evidence on the basis of which he can convince himself , or subject to public notoriety, but no such evidence shall thereafter be used against him in any judicial proceeding, except for libel when giving that evidence. ‘The Guyana Constitution allows the accused to withhold evidence on the grounds of self-discrimination and recently the police are in their effort to deal with the allegation by the PPP / C government that attempts have been made to rig in the 2020 elections, got some in custody. persons who invoked the right to remain silent.

The second lesson concerns the above law in the form of Pennsylvania that has been making the rounds as a possible input to a solution. Of course, if we place a high value on the democratic process and agree that manipulating elections seriously undermines that process then perhaps the duty on those accused of such conduct should bear witness. However, a plea of ​​self-discrimination helps to prevent the accused from being compelled to testify and make ‘confessions’ by using force or torture. Thus, even the weak Pennsylvanian version of the right to remain silent should not be abolished in conditions such as exist in Guyana where political partisanship affects most social institutions and accusations of police pressure and torture is common. A few years ago, the genitalia of a young man were burned in police custody to extract information from him. The US State Department’s 2018 Guyana Human Rights report noted ‘There were allegations that prison officials had abused prisoners as well as allegations that police had tortured suspects and prisoners.’

Interestingly, I have repeatedly argued in this column that a major political problem in Guyana is the general absence of a unified public opinion to hold governments to account. However, law enforcement is so pervasive and of such a dubious name that I suspect that either of the two major parties will be able to gain sufficient support from their ethnic bases to pass legislation that n remove an individual’s right to remain silent when confronted with the law.

The presidential transition is useful and could be formalized to prevent the kind of chaos that President Donald Trump is now causing. However, I am not far from claiming that social systems could operate flawlessly on written regulations alone. The final lesson is that all sorts of traditions and practices have to be adhered to: this is why ‘work to manage’ is such a strong trade union resistance tool. The final lesson is that democracy depends on two important unwritten values, tolerance and tolerance and discourse and compromise. One does not go to the limits – 34 is 50% of 65! – pursue your case even if someone feels that one is being changed.

The presidential transition is one of those important traditions and allows Donald Trump enough space to present evidence and present his case, but he has chosen to go the extra mile by not even cooperating in a ways that would be extremely beneficial to his country, especially at this moment. So when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who has only recently threatened to punish Guyanese officials for undermining democracy by pursuing ‘frivolous’ lawsuits and insisting that only legal votes are counted before the government transmitted – says he is in support of Trump’s stance of following the process to its limits, it is hypocritical. But given Trump’s popularity with the Republicans, his insistence on Pompeo’s personal loyalty and presumed ambitions for the 2024 elections, he may find comfort in the idea that once Trump doesn’t actually break the law, he can palaver as much as he likes: 20th January calls.

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