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Guyana celebrates 49th anniversary as a Republic

Guyana celebrates 49th anniversary as a Republic

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 23, CMC – Guyana is celebrating its 49th anniversary as a Republic on Saturday with President David Granger urging “national unity.”

“Let us work together to ensure that our country remains secure, our economy is stable and that everyone is safe and could enjoy a good life,” Granger said as he delivered his fourth Republic Anniversary speech to the country.

President David Granger

“Everyone wins when the nation is united,” Granger said, noting that nationals were marking the occasion which is a significant “fulfilment of our people’s aspirations to chart their own destiny by re-fashioning their social and economic relations, introducing new national institutions, affirming sovereignty and advancing towards the goal of self-reliance.”

“The 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic will be celebrated next year. All Guyanese are encouraged to prepare earnestly for this historic event by intensifying our collective efforts towards national unity.”

President Granger said he is confident that Guyanese “are also happy to live in a State that is committed to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and respect for fundamental human rights,” and apparent reference to the ongoing political situation in the country where Granger’s coalition government has fallen as a result of a vote of no confidence tabled by the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) last December.

The government has since appealed a High Court ruling that the motion, which received the support of a government backbencher, is valid and that elections should be held within 90 days of the motion being tabled and passed.

In his address, Granger said that tremendous inroads have been made to improve the lives of citizens through public education, public health, public information, public infrastructure, public security, public telecommunications, social protection and improved access to public services, including water and electricity.

He said the next stage that nationals eagerly anticipate is the “transformational economic change, which will accrue from the green economy and emerging petroleum sector,” and will drive the country further and faster into a future of prosperity.

Meantime, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said that Guyana has overcome major setbacks and has now fully joined the community of nations that are free and democratic.

“Our Guyana today remains peaceful, stable and orderly; with a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural population that is striving daily to realise the goal of being one, united Guyanese people, as one nation with a common destiny.

“We cannot return to the past. We must continue along the road of change and transformation,” he said, adding that the country is on the cusp of realising its economic potentials for unprecedented wealth with the advent of its commercial production of oil next year.

In its message, the PPP said that the symbols of nationhood, such as the National Flag and the Constitution, must be respected by all Guyanese.

“Mashramani is also a reminder of the fortitude and resilience of all of our people who remained steadfast in their efforts to building our nation, so as to realise the future we all desire.

“Our party remains cognizant of and commends the dedication and efforts of all involved in the various activities held across the country. It is the party’s fervent hope that all will reflect on Guyana’s journey as a nation since attaining the status as a Republic and continued to be imbued with patriotism and pride as we celebrate the occasion of Mashramani 2019.”

Meanwhile, United States says it recognizes Guyana’s systems of democracy and governance.

“As your government and the people of Guyana assess the future direction of your country, know that the United States recognizes and honors Guyana’s respect for the principles and integrity of democratic governance and institutions,” President Donald Trump wrote ina congratulatory letter to Granger.

While he made no reference to the political situation here, Trump singled out the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country’s role in the Western Hemisphere.

“Guyana is one of the United States’ most important partners in ensuring the Americas remain a zone of democracy, freedom, and security. We look forward to a continuing collaborative partnership going forward, supporting the security and economic interests of both our nations,” he said.

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Survivors of boating tragedy appear in court

Survivors of boating tragedy appear in court

by staff writer

NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 13, CMC – Two days after 22 Haitians were buried after they drowned while attempting to enter the Bahamas by sea earlier this month, the 18 who survived the ordeal have been charged with illegally entering the country.

The 17 men and one woman appeared before Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux telling her they were “looking for a better life” when they boarded they boarded the 40-foot vessel that ran aground in waters off Abaco on February 3.

So far 31 bodies had been recovered but the authorities said that nine were in such poor condition that they were buried in Abaco. The authorities have since called off the search for other survivors.

Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux thanked the survivors for their early plea of guilt and turned them over to immigration officials for processing.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Darren Henfield, said that Nassau has in the past warned of the dangers associated with the illegal migration by sea to the Bahamas.

He said the survivors will be repatriated and the Department of Immigration also said that there will be no special treatment for the survivors.

“The department’s policy in reference to the handling of the illegal migrants remains the same. There has been no change in regard to this policy,” the department said.

During the funeral service on Sunday, Bishop Simeon Hall told the mourners “to be poor and destitute (in Haiti) is still far better than to be dead and gone.”

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CARICOM reiterates call for peaceful solution to Venezuela crisis

CARICOM reiterates call for peaceful solution to Venezuela crisis

by staff writer

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries Monday reiterated the need for a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela even as they said they continue to follow closely “the unsatisfactory and increasingly volatile situation” in the South American country, reiterating their position of a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Caracas..

“It is with grave concern that we also follow the highly polarised and polarising circumstances surrounding Venezuela,” Barbados Ambassador to the United Nations, Liz Thompson, said as she addressed a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) In the Trusteeship Council on Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the 15-member CARICOM grouping, the Barbados diplomat said the regional countries are also fully aware of “words of bitterness and blame coming from both sides.

Barbados Ambassador to United Nations, Liz Thompson.

“The thoughts and sabre rattling by the internal and external contenders in this deteriorating situation. In all of this we are most concerned for and motivated by the plight of the people of Venezuela, who have been rendered powerless pawns…while others play a form of geo-political chess and brinksmanship,”she told the meeting.

Last week, St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, led a CARICOM delegation to Uruguay for talks aimed at ending the political crisis in the South American country where Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, backed by the United States and several other western countries, has declared himself the interim leader of Venezuela.

But Russia, China and Cuba are among countries that are supporting President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office last month for a second consecutive term as head of state.

The governments of Mexico and Uruguay had called for the conference with representatives from the main countries and international organisations that hold a neutral position towards Venezuela.

Harris said the Montevideo Mechanism adopted at the conference presents “the only objective mechanism” to address the complex political situation in Venezuela.

The Montevideo Mechanism is regarded as the initiative in response to the call by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to find a pathway to a peaceful resolution through dialogue and from a position of respect for International Law and Human Rights.

“We urge all parties inside and outside of Venezuela in the interest of the wellbeing of the people of that country to give the Montevideo Mechanism the time and space it needs to work. These United Nations know the painful experience of history both ancient and recent, the high and awful price of military intervention and the scourge of war,” Thompson said, adding that the CARICOM countries do not choose “one side or the other.

“We choose principle, the principle which led to the founding of this United Nations and the inclusion in its charter of Article 24, which calls for member states to refrain from the threat or the use of force.

“The principle which birthed Article 21 of the Charter of the Organisation of American States which recognises territorial inviolability. The principles of human rights, international law of the rule of law, the sanctity of national sovereignty, and the pivotal principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes, the pursuit of peace, of dialogue and compromise to ensure the preservation of the dignity and worth of the human person”.

Thompson told the conference that these principles are at the root of multilateralism.

“Indeed they are the very foundation on which this house in which we sit was built. Today we re-affirm our adherence to these principles. Critical for us too is the maintenance of the Caribbean and its wider region as a zone of peace.

“We remain steadfast in our view that economic strangulation and military intervention are not only counter to these principles, but will only exacerbate the already great suffering of the people of Venezuela”.

The Barbadian diplomat said that it is the contention of the Caribbean that ‘there must be a political solution that is crafted and owned by the Venezuelan people themselves and by their leaders.

“We support and call for a pathway to peace, forged not by threats but by dialogue. Not by escalating the tensions but by cooling them down. Not by marksmanship but by mediation. Not by the suffocation of sanctions but by the tools of diplomacy”.

She said those who wished for a peaceful solution and the prosperity of Venezuelans must actively encourage dialogue “where both sides seat, both sides talk and both sides listen, so that the common ground on which they can move forward may be found”.

Thompson said that it is in pursuit of this broad objective that CARICOM has offered itself to facilitate dialogue among all parties with a view to creating a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the South American country.

“We know too from the lesson of history …that peace and prosperity are indivisible. The people of Venezuela have already suffered enough. They deserve to live in peace. They deserve a future that offers prosperity. We urge all sides, difficult and complex though it may be, to enter into a constructive dialogue and to work together to build the pathway to peace for the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela,” Thompson added.

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CARICOM concerned at violence in Haiti

CARICOM concerned at violence in Haiti

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 13, CMC – The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has expressed concern at the violence in Haiti where opposition parties have been staging street demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

CARICOM chairman and St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, said the regional integration grouping “is deeply concerned about the continuing violent protests in Haiti, which have resulted in the loss of life, property, destruction of infrastructure and caused grave distress.

CMC (File Photo)

“The Community calls for calm and a cessation of the violence, appealing to all involved to engage in constructive dialogue and to respect the Constitution, the rule of law and democratic processes so that issues can be resolved in a peaceful atmosphere and allow for the return to a state of normalcy,” he said in a brief statement.

On Monday, the leaders of the various political parties and groups, adopt a common position demanding the resignation of the President Moïse and his government.

“The country is not governed, said opposition legislator, Senator Youri Latortue, adding it is not about the respect or not of the mandate of Jovenel Moïse.

“The observation is that the country is not governed. We cannot let the country go adrift with an incompetent person at its head,” he added.

Earlier this week, several Western countries condemned the “unacceptable acts of violence” in Haiti and called on all stakeholders, including Haitian leaders “to engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue in order to identify and implement realistic and lasting solutions, political and economic.

Opposition political parties have been staging street demonstrations in support of their calls for President Moise to step down, after accusing him of not investigating allegations of corruption in the previous government over PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. They are also demanding fresh elections and jobs.

But Moise has dismissed the calls for him to resign.

Over the past few days, demonstrators have taken to the streets burning tyres and sporadic gunshots were heard forcing the closure of many businesses. Police also clashed with protesters near the airport and used tear gas to regain control of the situation. At least four people have been killed and police Wednesday reported that they were investigating reports that several prisoners had escaped.

Earlier this month, the President of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSC/CA), Pierre Volmar Demesyeux, presented a copy of the report on the management of projects financed by the PetroCaribe funds to the Speaker of the Senate Carl Murat Cantave.

Cantave has since presented the report to Senator Youri Latortue, the President of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

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Opposition party dismisses calls made by Venezuelans residing in Trinidad and Tobago

Opposition party dismisses calls made by Venezuelans residing in Trinidad and Tobago

by staff writer February 4, 2019 PoliticsNo Comments 108 views

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 4, CMC – The leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), David Abdulah has dismissed calls by Venezuelan nationals residing here for the Trinidad and Tobago government to recognise Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

“Citizens of Venezuela can appeal to the government of Venezuela and the parties in Venezuela but Venezuelans here in Trinidad and Tobago cannot determine what the foreign policy of Trinidad and Tobago ought to be,’ Abdulah told reporters.

David Abdulah

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has already indicated that his administration is adopting the non-interventionist policy with regards to the unfolding situation in Venezuela where President Nicolas Maduro is under pressure to step down.

The main opposition United National Congress (UNC) has openly indicated its support for Guaido.

The United States is leading a campaign to oust Maduro claiming he rigged the elections that brought him to office for a second term last year. Several European countries including the United Kingdom, France and Spain have also said they would recognise Guaido.

But Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba have all said they continue to recognise Maduro and the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has said that it is willing to mediate in the conflict.

Last week, the Venezuelans resident here wrote to Prime Minister Rowley urging him to change his government’s policy and recognise Guaido.

“We would like you to put your hand on your heart by recognising the crying for freedom f millions of Venezuelans who have been victim of notable and escalating humanitarian crimes against our people in the power of the Nicolas Maduro regime,” the letter noted.

“At this crucial moment we would like you to understand that helping the people of Venezuela, not the Nicolas Maduro regime, is in the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago citizens, as the relationships amongst our new legitimate and constitutional government, chaired by our interim president Juan Guaido, can led to significant benefits to both countries in relation to effective border controls….”.

But Abdulah told reporters that ‘it is for the government of Trinidad and Tobago and the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago ultimately and the governments of CARICOM and the citizens of CARICOM who must determine the foreign policy of Trinidad and Tobago and of CARICOM’.

Abdulah said that the MSJ supports the efforts of CARICOM and was happy that Maduro was open to dialogue and mediation.

“Very regrettably, but not surprising, Guaido has taken the consistent right-wing line of the opposition position rejecting any talks, rejecting any mediation and simply wanting for resolving the thing by force backed, of course, by the United States and some other countries.”

Abdulah said that Madura spoke at a rally over the weekend, much bigger than that of Guaido.

“So it is not as if President Maduro is clinging on to power by himself and so on and the vast majority of the Venezuelans are against him. That is not the case.”

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President Granger urges supporters to re-elect his administration

President Granger urges supporters to re-elect his administration

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 4, CMC – President David Granger has appealed to supporters to re-elect his coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government even as he pledged not to resign despite the December 21, 2018 vote of confidence that tumbled his three and a half year old administration.

Last week, the High Court ruled that the motion of no confidence filed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was valid after it received the support of then government back bencher Charrandass Persaud.

President Granger addressing supporters on Sunday

The APNU coalition had previously enjoyed a one –seat majority in the 65 member National Assembly and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has since called on Granger to announce a date for the polls in keeping with the Guyana Constitution that an election must be held 90 days after the successful motion of no confidence in the government.

But as he addressed he addressed supports at Vreed-en-Hoop in Region 3, Essequibo Island-West Demerara on Sunday, Granger acknowledged that his administration is faced with a challenging situation, albeit, not of its own making.

But he pledged ““we will rise to this challenge again,” telling supporters that while the government cannot reverse what happened in the National Assembly, Guyana must press on.

“The Speaker has spoken, and we respect the Speaker, and we also have spoken. We met with the opposition, and we agreed that that National Assembly has work to do. I have not dissolved Parliament, neither have I resigned.

“There is no such thing as an interim government or caretaker government. According to the Constitution, I remain President, until the next president is sworn in,” Granger said, adding that an estimated 207,200 Guyanese went to polls in May 2015 and registered their support for the coalition.

“The same must be done this time around. The work must be completed. You elected us to do a job, let us finish the job. Give us a chance to finish the job. Put us in the driving seat, and you will see the transformation, the change in every region,” Granger said.

He told the public meeting that his coalition administration remains a legal legitimate government and nothing done so far is outside the rule of law.

He promised that whatever decisions are made in the courts will be followed by due process and that the government will move to every stage until it has exhausted every element and aspect of the law.

President Granger said the actions of Persaud in voting with the PPP in bringing down the government were “undemocratic, cruel and callous” adding that the former government legislator had failed to consult with his constituents.

“You don’t consult with your constituency, you don’t consult with your leaders, you just stab in the back,” he said, adding that voting for a party that stamped on local democracy for 23 years is definitely not the way to go.

“We must not relent. We must ensure that every person in West Demerara is registered. We will support you, we will protect you, and we will guarantee your rights. Bring more persons into our organisation; let them know they have a home.”

Granger said that there had been a definite transformation brought to Guyana in the last three and a half   years.

He said prior to his administration taking up office, pensioners were receiving a mere GUY$7,500 (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) monthly.

“Today that amount stands at over GUY$20,000. Teachers who were receiving a minimum wage of just GUY$32,000 have seen a stark increase to GUY$60,000 in three short years.

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Acting CJ Roxanane George-Wiltshire

Guyana court rules motion of no confidence against government, valid

Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire

CNS – Feb 1, 2019 –Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire, Thursday ruled that the motion of no confidence passed in the National Assembly on December 21 last year that brought down the David Granger led coalition government is valid, paving the way for fresh regional and general elections to be held later this year.

Under the Guyana Constitution elections must be held within 90 days of the motion of no confidence being passed.

Attorney General Basil Williams has since given notice that he intends to appeal the ruling. In a near four-hour ruling,

Justice George-Wiltshire also said that anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 of the Guyana Constitution “should not and could not be” a member of the Guyana Parliament.

Justice George-Wiltshire was delivering her ruling in the three matters regarding the validity of the successful opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) motion of no confidence.

She had earlier this month heard the arguments in the cases “Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly; Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.

The matters arose after the then government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud, who holds both Guyana and Canadian citizenship voted with the PPP in the 65-member National Assembly where the coalition government had previously enjoyed a slender one seat majority.

Williams had said there was a miscalculation of the majority of all elected members as required under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution for the government to be defeated on a vote of no confidence.

He had also asked the court to determine whether Resolution 101 is constitutional and effective and passed in accordance Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, arguing that the failure to obtain 34 or more votes breached article 106 (6) of the Constitution and was unlawful and the certification by the speaker by issuing Resolution 101 could not be conclusive.” But in her ruling in which she made the differentiation between a “simple” and “absolute” majority, the Acting Chief Justice said if all 65 members voted, the majority is 33.

“Therefore, in the case for the requirement for a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly, at least 33 votes ought to be obtained to meet that requirement. If 55 members are present, a majority of all members of the National assembly will still be 33. If only 45 members are present, a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33 and even if 23 members are present, the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33.”

She said as a result “the no confidence motion is carried, the requisite majority is obtained by a vote of 33 to 32. The President and the Ministers can’t therefore remain in government beyond the three months within which elections are required to be held in accordance with Article 106 of Article Seven unless that time is enlarged by the National Assembly in accordance with the requirements of said Article 106…”

Justice George-Wiltshire as a result the other questions raised by the applicants “are rendered moot” adding “this court cannot set aside or defy a ruling that was validly made …in (keeping with provisions) of Article 106…of the Constitution, nor can it stay in force a resolution validly declared in accordance with the same provisions of the Constitution”,.

She said while a court can intervene “this can only be done if the National Assembly act unconstitutionally.

“This is not the case here. So therefore, the ruling of the Speaker that the no confidence motion debated in the National Assembly on the 21 December 2018 was carried by a vote of the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is thus lawful and valid being in accordance with the requirements of the …Constitution”.

Earlier, the acting Chief Justice ruled that “anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 and therefore falls into this category…should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament” and as such the declaration sought in terms of paragraph one and two of the request for leave are granted.

“Therefore I hold and therefore declare that the second respondent is not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly by virtue of his own act and acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power to wit, the sovereign state of Canada in contravention of …of the Constitution of Guyana,” she ruled.

The Acting Chief Justice said “it is also declared the second respondent was on the seventh of April 2015 disqualified from being nominated as a member for the National Assembly of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana”.

On the issue of dual citizenship, the Acting Chief Justice said that the provisions in the Constitution seek to preserve for membership of the National Assembly “persons who only hold Guyanese citizenship and who would not have voluntarily taken an oath of allegiance to another country.

“While some may say that this does not permit the fullest participation of diaspora Guyanese in the political leadership of Guyana, this is not for this court to pronounce on. The Constitution is clear,,” she said, adding “as until it is amended to provide otherwise, the Constitutional provision must be adhered to. “Any change to reflect a different view may be undertaken by way of constitutional amendment if the public and their parliamentary representatives so inclined”.

The government had also argued as to whether section 5 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2000 (No 17/2000) is constitutional and not inconsistent with article 70 of the Constitution.

The Attorney General had said that the framers of the Constitution in article 70 (3), having guaranteed an elected government, a five years term of office which five years term is protected by entrenchment by the requirement of 2/3 of all the elected members of the National Assembly voting to reduce that 5 years, could not at the same time have intended that a future Parliament were to be permitted to abridge or curtail the enjoyment of that five years, by introducing into the Constitution via a provision that is not entrenched at all a process called a ‘vote of confidence.”

But in her ruling the judge disagreed with the argument. The coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), came to office in 2015.

| Caribbean News Service

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Washington Post

Zero $$ for the wall – Inside Trump’s shutdown turnaround

President Trump departs the Rose Garden of the White House after announcing the end of the government shutdown on Friday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

By Philip Rucker , Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim

January 25. 2019

His poll numbers were plummeting. His FBI director was decrying the dysfunction. The nation’s air travel was in chaos. Federal workers were lining up at food banks. Economic growth was at risk of flatlining, and even some Republican senators were in open revolt.

So on Friday, the 35th day of a government shutdown that he said he was proud to instigate, President Trump finally folded. After vowing for weeks that he would keep the government closed unless he secured billions in funding for his promised border wall, Trump agreed to reopen it.

He got $0 instead.

Trump’s capitulation to Democrats marked a humiliating low point in a polarizing presidency and sparked an immediate backlash among some conservative allies, who cast him as a wimp.

Elected as a self-proclaimed master dealmaker and business wizard who would bend Washington to his will and stand firm on his campaign promises — chief among them the wall — Trump risks being exposed as ineffective. ‘We have reached a deal’: Trump says shutdown will end

President Trump on Jan. 25 announced that a deal had been reached to reopen the government, ending the longest partial government shutdown in history. (Reuters)

“He was the prisoner of his own impulse and it turned into a catastrophe for him,” said David Axelrod, who was a White House adviser to President Barack Obama. “The House of Representatives has power and authority — and now a speaker who knows how to use it — so that has to become part of his calculation or he’ll get embarrassed again.”

Trump’s quest for at least some portion of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is not over, however. Friday’s agreement only temporarily reopens the government, providing a three-week ­period for Congress to negotiate a longer-term spending agreement. The president said he would continue advocating for his signature campaign promise and threatened to again shut down the government or declare a national emergency to use his unilateral powers to build the wall if Congress does not appropriate funding for it by Feb. 15.

“Let me be very clear: We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said Friday. He also tweeted in the evening that his decision “was in no way a concession.”

But when Trump stood alone in a bitter-cold White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon to announce that the government was reopening with no money for the wall, he punctuated five weeks of miscalculation and mismanagement by him and his administration.

This account of Trump’s stymied pursuit of border wall funding is based on interviews with more than a dozen senior administration officials, Trump confidants and others briefed on internal discussions, many of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly.

For weeks, Trump has sought an exit ramp from the shutdown that would still secure wall funding, and for weeks his advisers failed to identify a viable one.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) address the media at the Capitol on Friday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Trump repeatedly predicted to advisers that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would cave and surmised that she had a problem with the more liberal members of her caucus. But she held firm, and her members stayed united.

“Why are they always so loyal?” Trump asked in one staff meeting, complaining that Democrats so often stick together while Republicans sometimes break apart, according to attendees.

As for their negotiations, Trump and Pelosi had not spoken since their Jan. 9session in which the president stormed out of the White House Situation Room. In a meeting with some columnists on Friday, Pelosi was asked why she thought Trump had not created a more potent nickname for her than “Nancy.” She replied, according to a senior Democratic aide, “Some people think that’s because he understands the power of the speaker.” House Speaker Pelosi signs bill to temporarily end shutdown

The House joined the Senate in passing legislation to end the partial government shutdown by temporarily funding federal agencies on Jan. 25. (Reuters)

Trump and his advisers misunderstood the will of Democrats to oppose wall funding. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, emerged as the most powerful White House adviser during the shutdown and told colleagues that Trump’s plan for $5.7 billion in wall funding would get Democratic votes in the Senate on Thursday, astonishing Capitol Hill leaders and other White House aides.

Kushner, who Trump jokingly says is to the “left,” pitched a broader immigration deal and had faith that he could negotiate a grand bargain in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with his discussions. He pitched a big deal to Latino groups this week and also with members of the Koch network, the people said.

Trump, who fretted about the shutdown’s impact on the economy and his personal popularity, cast about for blame and pointed fingers at his staff — including Kushner — for failing to resolve the impasse, according to aides.

At a meeting Wednesday with conservative groups, the president accused former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) of having “screwed him” by not securing border wall money when Republicans had the majority, according to one attendee, Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. He said Ryan should have gotten him money before he left but he had no juice and had “gone fishing,” according to two attendees.

Ryan had warned the president against a shutdown and told him it would be politically disastrous, according to a person familiar with their conversations.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other Cabinet members listen as President Trump announces the end of the government shutdown. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

All the while, Trump vowed he would never capitulate to Democrats. At the Wednesday meeting, “he said there would be no caving,” Krikorian said. “Everybody who spoke up applauded him for not caving, but warned him that any further movement toward the Democrats’ direction would be a problem.”

White House aides had been monitoring Transportation Security Administration data on airport security delays and staffing levels several times a day. Officials said Thursday that the situation was worsening and would probably force the end of the shutdown.

But events at the Capitol on Thursday are largely what triggered Trump to conclude that he had run out of time and that he had to reopen the government, his aides said.

Trump lost control of his party as fissures emerged among exasperated Republican senators. Six of them voted Thursday for a Democratic spending bill, and others privately voiced frustration with Vice President Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during a closed-door, contentious luncheon.

“Everyone who saw the floor action realized we were basically at the same place where we began and we needed a different solution,” a White House official said of Thursday’s votes.

McConnell called Trump on Thursday to say that the shutdown could not hold because some of his members were in revolt. The president did not commit to ending it in that call, but he phoned McConnell back that evening to say he had concluded the shutdown had to end, according to a person with knowledge of the conversations.

Under attack from some Republican colleagues, McConnell told senators on Friday that Trump had come up with the idea for a three-week deal — and that the president would be announcing it.

When Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) visited the White House on Thursday, he said Trump was in a “pragmatic” mood, mentioning the failed Senate votes and saying he wanted to make a deal.

Pence and Kushner presented the president with several options that would reopen the government, according to a White House official. They included using his executive authority to declare a national emergency and redirect other public funds for the wall, an option Trump said Friday he was holding in reserve. Trump also briefly considered a commission that would study a wall, according to a senior administration official.

On Thursday night, the president grew annoyed at Mick Mulvaney when the acting White House chief of staff talked with him about policy prescriptions for the next three weeks and what an eventual deal might look like, according to one person familiar with the conversation.

Administration officials began immediately on this next phase; Mulvaney and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met privately with a handful of Republican senators at Camp David on Friday evening to start discussing what a border security agreement might look like, according to multiple people familiar with the gathering.

On Thursday night, the president grew annoyed at Mick Mulvaney when the acting White House chief of staff talked with him about policy prescriptions for the next three weeks, according to one person familiar with the conversation. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Ultimately, aides said, Trump was willing to table debate over wall funding because he is convinced he can win support from some Democratic lawmakers over the next three weeks.

Friday’s agreement allows for a conference committee made up of rank-and-file members from each party to negotiate border security funding, which White House aides said they believe will enable more flexibility than existed during Trump’s stalemate with Pelosi.

A senior White House official said the administration’s negotiating team has received “dozens of signals from Democrats that they are willing to give the president wall money,” but declined to name any such lawmakers.

The administration may have been referring to a letter written by freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and signed by more than 30 House Democrats, which merely called for a vote on Trump’s border security proposal once the government reopens.

But “that vote would obviously fail in the House,” one senior Democratic aide pointed out. “This is just pathetic spin.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “The poll numbers tell a very stark story, but it’s only part of the more enduring longer-term effect on the president’s credibility. He essentially held America hostage for a vanity project and a campaign applause line that the American people saw clearly was never worth shutting down the government to achieve.”

Trump’s approval ratings have fallen in most public polls, including a Washington Post-ABC News survey released Friday that found 37 percent approve of his presidency and 58 percent disapprove.

Trump risks further angering independent voters who do not agree with the prolonged shutdown and conservatives who disapprove of him caving after 35 days with no win.

[‘Trump caves’ or ‘Genius’: Right wing splits after Trump ends shutdown with no wall funding]

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, whose criticism of Trump in mid-December helped inspire the president to shut the government in protest over wall funding, registered her disapproval of his Friday decision.

“Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States,” Coulter tweeted.

For months, Republican senators had been trying to warn Trump against a shutdown. Last June, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the chamber’s point person on Homeland Security funding, met privately with Trump not only to tout their bipartisan border security spending package but also to nudge him away from a confrontation over the wall.

“I just said, ‘Shutdowns are miserable,’ ” Capito said Friday, recounting that Oval Office conversation. “The last one was miserable. And this one was double miserable, and so, you know, maybe you have to live through it to really get the sense of it.”

King faulted the conservative Freedom Caucus, led by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), both Trump confidants, for steering the president in the wrong direction.

“I hope he ignores them for the next three weeks,” King said. “It’s the charge of the light brigade. It’s the valley of death.”

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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Commentary: Exit Brexit … stage right?

By Anthony L Hall

January 18, 2019

Anthony Hall

I am on record dismissing Brexit as just a sham sold by shysters, full of lies and presumptions signifying no deal.

I refer you to such commentaries as “EU: Britain Trying to Have Cake and Eat It Too,” January 29, 2013, “Brexit: Forget Leaving, Britain a Greater EU Contagion If It Remains,” June 22, 2016, and “On Brexit Plan, EU to UK, No Way! September 24, 2018.

More to the point, I warned that Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to execute Brexit was a non-starter — not only in the EU but even in the UK. Here is the foreshadowing I offered in “Brexit: Having Cake and Eating It Too,” July 24, 2018.

Her [Chequers] White Paper is just a formal version of the idea May floated earlier this year for a ‘managed divergence’ from EU rules. But it should have been instructive that, according to the March 8 edition of The Economist, the EU dismissed it back then as cherry-picking that would undermine the single market.

To be fair, though, in proposing her managed divergence, May was just doing what her predecessors did. …

I’ve been decrying Britain’s ill-fated efforts to negotiate one-foot-in/one-foot-out deals with the EU for years. Therefore, I see no point in delving too deep into Brexit’s murky waters here.

It should suffice to know that at least half of the Britons who voted for Brexit can’t even name the EU’s four ‘indivisible’ freedoms, namely the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This, despite the fact that Britain’s attempt to divvy up these freedoms (e.g., by cherry picking to allow goods but restrict people) has been the most animating feature of the Brexit debate.

More to the point, this prevailing ignorance is why so many Britons, across the political spectrum, have been calling for a second referendum (a.k.a. a mulligan) before any UK-EU divorce settlement is executed. …

Britain is fated to end up an island unto itself Cake and marooned in the global sea by the foolish, ignorant pride Brexit reflects. Even worse, as Obama famously warned (and Trump hinted), it will find itself at the back of the line of weak and relatively poor countries trying to strike trade deals with the world’s biggest trading blocs, including the American-led NAFTA, the Chinese-led ACFTA, and yes, ironically enough, the German-led EU.

Given that, this came as no surprise yesterday:

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes — the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election.

(BBC, January 15, 2019)

May is now a dead PM walking. The only question is whether a vote to end Brexit (viz. another referendum) passes before a vote to end her career (viz. another leadership challenge or general election).

Mind you, the only honorable thing to do after such a humiliating defeat is to resign. No doubt every previous prime minister would have done just that. Exhibit A is David Cameron, her predecessor who resigned after triggering this Brexit mess with his ill-fated referendum in June 2016.

Therefore, it speaks volumes about how far Brexit-crazed Britain has lost its way that resigning seems to have not even occurred to May. Remarkably, even the members of her own Conservative party — who voted for her historic humiliation — seem perfectly happy to sit and watch her wither away … stage right.

  • Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant – headquartered in Washington DC – who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com

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Related commentaries:
EU to UK: no way

* This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on Tuesday, January 15

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Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Chief Justice could rule by month end regarding challenges to the validity of motion of no confidence

Chief Justice could rule by month end regarding challenges to the validity of motion of no confidence

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 15, CMC – Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire Tuesday said she intends to give a ruling by the end of this month regarding the three matters challenging the validity of last month’s motion of no confidence that led to the downfall of the David Granger coalition government.

She told lawyers representing the various parties during the case management hearing that they should submit their legal arguments within the specific deadlines

Lawyers awaiting start of case management hearing

“A decision will be ready before the end of this month ” she said, noting also that she is unlikely to grant a conservatory order for the President and Cabinet to remain in office due to the time frames.

“We are going to push ahead” and decide on those “matters as urgently as possible” because “the nation is awaiting the outcome of these matters,” she added.

On December 21st last year, then government backbencher, Charrandass Persaud, voted in support of a motion filed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo that gave the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) the 33 votes needed to ensure the success of the motion in the 65-member National Assembly.

As a result, the PPP is calling for fresh regional and presidential elections by March this year, while the government has gone to court challenging the validity of the vote.

On Tuesday, the Chief Justice heard the case management for the cases “Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly; Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.

She has given the lawyers in all three matters to file their pleadings and make their submissions by January 18 while rebuttals have been listed to take place by January 21.

Oral arguments have been set for January 24 in all of the matters. However, the attorney representing Ram will make his oral submissions on January 23.

Attorney General, Basil William’s was granted permission to make submissions in two of the three cases that Article 70 of the Guyana Constitution provides for the government to run its full five year term in office.

During the hearing,  a senior official of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government,  Joseph Harmon was given the green light to join the Compton Reid matter. He is being represented by Attorney Roysdale Forde.

Williams told reporters that although the timelines that have been set out are “tight”, he intends to proceed with his submissions and arguments. He said the government maintains its position that the motion was not passed by a majority in the 65 member Parliament.

But attorney Anil Nandlall, who is the lead attorney for Jagdeo, said he is also ready to proceed.

He said the government has it wrong and the motion was carried by a majority of 33 votes and will make that point during his oral submissions.

CMC/gt/ir/2019

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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