The British Government has issued a warning that Guyana could face possible Commonwealth sanctions with the ongoing prorogation of parliament.
Just three days after the British Foreign Minister issued a statement from London calling for the President to lift the suspension of Parliament; British High Commissioner to Guyana Andrew Ayre repeated that call and said “the United Kingdom is increasingly concerned as to what the basis for the suspension of Parliament is and how long it will last for”
The Government of the United Kingdom has made significant investments in Guyana over the years and the British High Commissioner signaled that the future of such investments could be reexamined once the parliament remains suspended.
“Without a Parliament, there is no Parliamentary oversight of development systems or anything else, and so clearly the appetite to send money to a country which has no parliamentary oversight is much reduced”, High Commissioner Ayre warned.
When pressed by News Source about whether that statement points to the UK deciding to put a halt to future projects in Guyana, Mr. Ayre reiterated that “I am saying that without a Parliament no laws can be passed, no scrutiny can be had, against the background of our doubts about the process that is taking place here, there is a reluctance to send development funds. Of course there is. How can we even justify that to our own tax payers?”
He was quick to point out that the UK absolutely supports the holding of national and local elections in Guyana and looks forward to playing a part in delivering free and fair elections in Guyana.
High Commissioner Ayre told the Guyanese media gathered at the Cara Lodge Hotel in Georgetown that Guyana could be subjected to a critical review for breaching the Commonwealth charter and there could possibly be a suspension from the Commonwealth. He said he hopes the situation does not reach that stage but noted that the issue of the prorogation of the Parliament in Guyana is already being discussed at the Commonwealth level.
High Commissioner Ayre said President Ramotar having recently signed the Commonwealth Heads of Government Sri Lanka Declaration ought to deliver on the commitments that he would have signed onto. Those commitments include the importance of democracy and the ability of all Commonwealth citizens to be able to participate in democratic processes and to hold their governments to account.
“A functioning democracy matters not just to fulfill the obligations in Constitutions, Charters or Declarations. It matters because development depends on it”, the British High Commissioner noted.
The British Government has been the first international partner to openly call on the Government of Guyana to lift the suspension of parliament.
President Donald Ramotar in November announced his decision to prorogue the Parliament of Guyana in an effort to block a no confidence motion that was being prepared to be moved against his government. He also said he hoped the prorogation period would allow talks between the Government and the Opposition. But the Opposition parties which hold the majority in the Parliament rejected the Presidential invitation. Opposition Leader David Granger said there is no issue that the Government could want to discuss outside the Parliament that cannot be discussed inside the Parliament. He said the Opposition parties will have no discussions with the government on any issue once the parliament remains prorogued.
The British High Commissioner said with the Opposition making clear their position and the unlikelihood of any discussions between the two sides once the parliament remains suspended, it is time for the Government of Guyana to “get on with it” and remove the suspension.