Republican democracy makes Persaud’s action, a good omen for Guyana

first_imgDear Editor,After the historic voting ended regarding the no-confidence motion, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said the voting process was “open and transparent” and “that is how democracy works and we are fully committed to the rule of law.”However, for exercising his constitutional right to vote on behalf of his constituents, MP Charrandas Persaud was assaulted, issued death threats, offered protection by the minister of security, and ultimately, forced to flee Guyana in fear for his life.Government did not let up. They characterized Mr. Persaud in the state-owned Chronicle as a “Judas at Christmas,” a Biblical reference to arguably the most famous betrayal which ended with death. It underscores the hostility of coalition electors injected into the voting process.Our constitution prohibits Government from abridging a free exercise of religion; to disrespect Christians using the press is to limit this free exercise of their faith. The Prime Minister, a Christian, found the Judas Iscariot depiction of Mr. Persaud “distasteful” (see “Historic no-confidence vote,” Chronicle, Dec 23, 2018) as a matter of religion but not democracy.He approves of the flawed idea of betrayal, writing that the two hundred thousand voters who elected the coalition government would justifiably feel betrayed, but their “rage has to be tempered by the coalition’s own commitment to the norms of parliamentary democracy…”I respectfully disagree with the Prime Minister’s version of parliamentary democracy, which sends a message of hostility. Where a law allows for a citizen to vote, the idea of betrayal is a dangerous threat to both the act of voting and the law. In short, an elector must vote without being hog-tied to party, intra-party committees, or personality.Members of the coalition (e.g., see Sherwood Lowe, “Personal conscience irrelevant in no-confidence motion,” SN Dec 24, 2018) may find the recent press release on the issue from the British High Commissioner instructive. In it, we read: “Members of Parliament must be allowed to undertake their constitutionally mandated roles in the absence of fear or favour.”Further, Mr. Persaud participated in Guyana’s republican form of political representation. That is, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is not a government of the coalition, by the coalition, and for the coalition. Behind each MP that occupies a seat in parliament are, I believe, about seven thousand voters-constituents who are never invisible.Mr. Persaud owed his alliance first and foremost to his constituents (the “people”) in Berbice where, arguably, his action is approved (see “Some Canje residents say proud of Charrandas Persaud,” SN Dec 22, 2018). As an elector, his conscience is most relevant as it is becomes the property of his constituents at the point of casting a vote. This is the essence of voting.Remove it and the entire process crumbled. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth. Our constitution does not require an elector in parliament resign from a seat or abstain from voting, especially where one is compelled to do either due to practice or policy that opposes the tenets of republican democracy.On the contrary, an elector’s primary duty is to confront such practice or policy by way of a vote. This is so because the power of a vote is always supreme to the power of a government. That fateful Friday, the government saw an “irrelevant” elector in a seat, but ignored the seven thousand constituents standing behind him in accordance with the principle of republican democracy.This republican democracy makes Persaud’s action a good omen for Guyana, but only if others vote independently, free from fear or favor.Sincerely,Rakesh Rampertablast_img read more