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first_imgDear Editor,The long awaited judgments and orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice finally were delivered on July 12, 2019.The nation’s wait is over.With regards to the GECOM case, the CCJ ruled thatPara 3 “….It is now a matter of the greatest public importance that the President and the Leader of the Opposition should, as soon as possible, embark upon and conclude the process of appointing a new GECOM Chairman. This imperative is now of the utmost urgency in light of our decision in the no confidence motion cases that the motion was validly passed thereby triggering the need for fresh general elections. The Court refers to the views we expressed at paragraphs 26 – 29 of our earlier judgment in this matter as a suitable frame of reference for the process leading to such an appointment.”With regards to the consolidated cases on the No Confidence Motion, the CCJ stated in Para 8;“ .. It is important, however, that the Court makes this point. In mandating that the Government shall remain in office notwithstanding its defeat and the resignation of the President and the Cabinet, Article 106 envisages that the tenure in office of the Cabinet, including the President, after the Government’s defeat, is on a different footing from that which existed prior to the vote of no confidence. Chancellor Cummings-Edwards, citing Hogg1, the Canadian constitutional expert, was right to note that:“…The government continues in office as a caretaker government or an interim government until the next elections ensue and a President is appointed (or reappointed) depending on the results of that election.”By convention, the government is expected to behave during this interim period as a caretaker and so restrain the exercise of its legal authority. It is this caretaker or interim role that explains the three month deadline, in the first instance, that the Article lays down, in principle, for the holding of the fresh elections”Furthermore Para 9 concludes that“ In all the circumstances, the Court makes the following declarations and orders:a) The provisions of Article 106(6) and (7) of the Constitution apply to a No Confidence motion;b) Thirty-three votes constitute a majority of the 65 member National Assembly;c) Mr. Charrandas Persaud was ineligible to be elected to the Assembly by virtue of his citizenship of Canada but his vote on the motion of no confidence was valid;d) Nothing in the anti-defection regime established at Article 156(3) of the Constitution rendered Mr. Persaud incapable of casting his vote on that motion in the manner in which he did;e) The National Assembly properly passed a motion of no confidence in the Government on 21 December 2018;f) Upon the passage of this motion of no confidence in the Government, the clear provisions of Article 106 immediately became engaged;”Regrettably, although the language of the Caribbean Court of Justice is unambiguously clear, the now caretaker government’s head, President Granger, in his Address to the Nation, following the CCJ declarations and orders, exposed his unwillingness to accept the ruling, despite him saying the contrary. In regurgitating what he had said in his Address to the Nation on June 19, 2019 with regards to (i) a contaminated list can vitiate the credibility of the elections and that (ii) GECOM has to advise the President on its readiness to conduct elections, he clearly was ignoring at best and contradicting at worst the CCJ ‘s judgment and orders of July12, 2019..But more telling was his accusation that the Leader of the Opposition had not reciprocated the government’s good faith efforts and “chose to put forward candidates for the post who have been rejected previously.” This is an astounding accusation as Mr. Granger himself on July 4th 2019 at his press conference following the meeting with the Leader of the Opposition announced that“… the Leader of the Opposition is free to submit names which have been already submitted in the three previous iterations and he has agreed to confirm those persons are still willing to have their names forwarded. So the names submitted before are not eliminated.”This statement accurately reflects the agreement of the meeting earlier on July 4, 2019, between the President and the Leader of the Opposition, on the resubmission of the 18 names originally submitted in 2017, “appropriately adjusted”, to commence the informal process and the President would advise which ones were “ not unacceptable” to him. Furthermore, the President was free to submit names informally for the consideration of Leader of the Opposition.Again at the July 4, 2019 press conference, President Granger re-affirmed…” yes l could make submissions, but in the final analysis, that submission has to come to me from the Leader of the Opposition, the CCJ has not taken away that role from the Leader of the Opposition and it has not taken away my prerogative to make a selection. Those have been preserved by the CCJ”.Either the President is suffering from amnesia or his spin-doctors are recklessly ignoring what he said previously?The President goes so far as to state that “ …the Leader of the Opposition rejected the idea of acting in a consensual manner.” This statement is palpably untrue. The President’s representatives rejected 6 of the 11 names submitted by the Leader of the Opposition and shortlisted 5 for which there was no clarity whether these were “not unacceptable” to the President. Thus, after 3 meetings there were 0 names of the 11 that were considered “not unacceptable’ to the President. Most surprising, his representatives could not confirm that even the 8 names submitted by the President were “no unacceptable’ to him! Thus, at that point, the reversion to meetings between the President and the Leader of the Opposition, without interlocutors, to ensure clarity was thought to be the only, best and right option at that time by the Leader of the Opposition’s representatives.Here is the evidence of who is acting in bad faith and the nation is not fooled.Following the CCJ judgment today, attempts have been made to make contact with the Director General Mr. Harmon and a message sent the afternoon of July 12, 2019 to indicate that the Leader of the Opposition is available to meet President Granger at any time during this weekend in to work on a list of names acceptable to both the Leader of the Opposition and the President in keeping with the art 161 (2) of the Constitution and Para 26-29 of the June 18, 2019 CCJ decision as directed by the CCJ on July 12, 2019.Then one has the AFC statement which appeared on the same afternoon, which echoes the President’s view that “it is GECOM that advises on the earliest date for holding credible elections. The AFC supports the holding of elections within the shortest possible time frame by GECOM.”It is not surprising that both deliberately or conveniently misrepresent and omit a critical section of the July 12th CCJ declaration at Para 5“The judiciary interprets the Constitution. But, as we intimated in our earlier judgment, these particular provisions {article 106(6) and (7) } require no gloss on the part of the Court in order to render them intelligible and workable. Their meaning is clear and it is the responsibility of constitutional actors in Guyana to honour them. Upon the passage of a vote of no confidence, the Article requires the resignation of the Cabinet including the President. The Article goes on to state, among other things, that notwithstanding such resignation, the Government shall remain in office and that an election shall be held “within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine …” The Guyana Elections Commission (“GECOM”) has the responsibility to conduct that election and GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution” { that is elections within 3 months}These efforts, by no less than the caretaker President and the AFC, to obfuscate the fact that the CCJ did provide a time limit and timeline, will not succeed.The CCJ said unequivocally that elections are due in the three months in accordance with article 106.The CCJ stated specifically that the time started on June 18th 2019 when the CCJ ruling was made. Although the Court rightfully stated that it could not set a date, it was unambiguously clear that whatever date is chosen it must be within the three months deadline.No spin doctor for the caretaker government can obliterate the judgment, declarations and orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Guyana’s highest court.The litmus test now for the APNUAFC Coalition caretaker government is whether it will uphold constitutional rule or not. Will it do anything to stay in power including subverting our constitution?Best regards,Gail Teixeiralast_img read more