BY: CHRISTOPHER RAM
While claiming to be “all for CARICOM”, Raphael Trotman, Chairman of the AFC has told member states of CARICOM to mind their own business and allow Guyana to solve what he refers to as a “constitutional crisis”. The constitutional crisis he was referring to is the successive fraudulent reports submitted by the Chief Election Officer to the GECOM Chair on the results of the March 2, elections. Trotman and Joe Harmon were Joint APNU+AFC Campaign Managers for the elections although he has been the less strident of the two in the conspiracy with the Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield to rig the results of the elections. In dismissing these small islands, Trotman does not seem to share David Granger’s description of CARICOM as Guyana’s most legitimate interlocutors and not to know that two of the three members of the Recount Scrutineering Team came from small islands.
Trotman must know that whether big or small, member states of CARICOM all have equal standing and a single vote when it comes to voting. The same as with voting in the General Assembly of the United Nations. His statement is insulting not only to all members of CARICOM but, at this particular moment, to St. Vincent and the Grenadines which has just assumed the chairmanship of CARICOM. Such undeveloped views of leading politicians of one country about other countries serve to undermine not only the cooperation and unity of our region but our own interest as well. Trotman ought to know that in seeking protection for our rice, sugar and other products under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) it is those very countries whose support we will need.
Trotman is probably not aware that those very small islands constitute their own sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), have their own stock exchange, Supreme Court and Central Bank which has overseen the most stable currency in the world over the past forty years! And one of those small islands has produced not one but two of the three Nobel Laureates, the other being Trinidad and Tobago. He knows too that the President of the wider regional court is from a small island and that that court has continually saved Guyana from miscarriages of justice. In other words, Trotman should not be blind to the fact that there is much we can learn and benefit from, from those small islands.
At a personal level, Trotman should be the least of the Cabinet and the rigging cabal to disparage the small islands. His father Donald Trotman served in high office in two of those countries – St. Vincent and Grenada – while his sister is currently part of the establishment in Grenada. And lest he forget, it is in one of those very small islands that he chose for his second marriage following his signing of the lopsided petroleum agreement with ExxonMobil.
Addressing the fictional and fraudulent report submitted on Saturday by Lowenfield, Trotman opined that he could not see how any section of the Representation of the People Act or any powers that GECOM has could overturn or undo that report. As a lawyer, Trotman must know that one does not read a single Article of a Constitution, let alone a single word, a single section of an Act or a single paragraph in any subsidiary document to understand and appreciate its meaning. Any legal instrument has to be read as a harmonious whole. Trotman must be aware of some of the broad rules for the interpretation of constitutions including the famous words of Lord Wilberforce in the Bermuda case Minister of Home Affairs v Fisher to stay “clear of the austerity of tabulated legalism”; that the constitution has to be read as a whole; that a constitution is not to be “read like a last will and testament”; that as a living organism a constitution “should be made to serve the society in the climate existing when its aid is summoned”; and very importantly, the words of Lord Kinkel that the “language of a constitution falls to be construed not in a narrow and legalistic way, but broadly and purposively, so as to give effect to its spirit ….”.
Mr. Trotman seems to believe that the purpose and intent of a single word in the Guyana Constitution can be the excuse for the hijacking of an elections by an employee of the constitutional body charged with the supervision of elections. In that case, he and I have some fundamental differences on understanding basic legal principles. I allow for the fact that Trotman’s views are obviously clouded by his political interest and what was seen as his duty to deliver victory to the APNU+AFC. He and Harmon having clearly failed to do so despite the unlimited resources at their disposal, he seeks refuge in the next best possibility, described by him as win-win, a not too disguised term for power-sharing. I have read the APNU+AFC Manifestos for the past three elections and it should come as no surprise that in not one of them is there anything like win-win or power-sharing. Indeed, it is funny that Harmon and Granger, who seem bent on rigging the elections in favour of the APNU+AFC have no interest in power-sharing.
In any case, after the pain through which the APNU+AFC is putting Guyanese, the likelihood of the imposition of sanctions on Guyana, the potential for the embarrassment they are causing CARICOM, and the setback for democracy for the wider community of nations, Granger, Harmon and Volda Lawrence, among others, are undeserving of trust by anyone or the engagement in any conversation. The “constitutional crisis” Trotman refers to has arisen from the unwillingness to play by the rules of democracy. It is that simple.