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APNU to complain to Commonwealth about breach of Charter

General Secretary of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Joseph Harmon.

In the wake of the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) strong rebuff that the ongoing suspension of Guyana’s Parliament is not a violation of the Commonwealth Charter, A Partnership of National Unity (APNU) plans to write the 53-nation organisation pointing out this country breach of its values and values.

“We will examine carefully what the Commonwealth Charter states and we will identify where the breach has taken place and we may quite formally write the Commonwealth Secretariat on this matter,” APNU General Secretary, Joseph Harmon told Caribbean News Desk ahead of a formal meeting of that opposition coalition.

He reasoned that it should be the Commonwealth that should be the arbiter of violations rather than Caricom.

Harmon flayed Caricom’s Community Council- the regional grouping’s second highest decision making body- for issuing a statement based solely on a presentation by Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett. “Even though the constitution provides for prorogation, that the whole sense of what is taking place here, Caricom ought to have had a better understanding of the issue and therefore I am quite surprised that they would have taken that position,” he told Caribbean News Desk.

Harmon said now that the Council has issued a statement on the Guyana situation saying, among other things, that the country has not breached the Commonwealth Charter, APNU planned to formally bring to that organisation’s attention Guyana’s violation.

That statement came one day after Foreign Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said that Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma told her in response to an inquiry that there has been no discussion on the situation in her country with the British Government or its High Commissioner in Georgetown or by any other Commonwealth body for that matter. “As such, there has been no conclusion by the Commonwealth that Guyana is in breach of the Commonwealth Charter,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

The General Secretary of APNU lambasted Caricom for only considering the views of ministers rather than those of people at large through the now seemingly defunct caucus of Opposition Leaders. “I believe we are on good ground by saying that the action of the Caricom Council of Ministers is regretted and it is regrettable that they could have taken such a firm stance on the recommendation just of Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett,” he said.

Britain has repeatedly stated that the Guyana government has breached the South American nation’s constitution and the Commonwealth Charter by the continuing prorogation of the Parliament since November 10 and the failure to hold Local Government Elections since 1994.

The United Kingdom wants the suspension to be lifted or for elections to be called because government’s  repeated call on the opposition for talks to resolve burning political issues and agree to a post-prorogation parliamentary agenda have been ignored on the basis that there would be no talks unless the prorogation is lifted. The Caricom Council’s statement quotes the Guyanese Foreign Minister as saying that President Donald Ramotar would very soon announce the date at which Guyanese would return to the polls to elect a government of their choice.

The prorogation of the Parliament was done the same day that the opposition-controlled National Assembly had been due to approve a no-confidence motion in the Ramotar administration and would have resulted in elections by January 2015. However, the Guyana Elections Commission would not have been ready for polls by then.