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Western diplomats urge Guyana politicians to follow CCJ ruling

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Western diplomats yesterday urged Guyana's political leaders to abide by the ruling of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that last week called on political actors here to ensure that regional and general elections are held within the time frame stipulated by the Constitution.

“The Caribbean Court of Justice — Guyana's final court — has spoken. It is important for the rule of law that all invoked actors abide by its ruling and the relevant provisions of the constitution. We urge everyone to do so expeditiously,” the diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union said in a joint statement.

In the statement, the diplomats — US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch, United Kingdom High Commissioner to Guyana Greg Quinn, and European Union Ambassador to Guyana Jernej Videti — described the consequential declarations delivered by the CCJ last Friday as “definitive”.

The CCJ ruled that it cannot “establish a date on or by which elections must be held” in Guyana, following the successful tabling of a motion of no-confidence against the present coalition government of President David Granger, last December.

CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders, delivering the consequential declarations of the court, said that the CCJ also could “not lay down timelines and deadlines that in principle are the preserves of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives”.

But he said the CCJ must assume that “these bodies and personages will exercise their responsibilities with integrity, and in keeping with the unambiguous provisions of the constitution, bearing in mind that the no confidence motion was validly passed as long ago as 21st December 2018”.

Under the Guyana Constitution, elections therefore must be held within a 90-day period, following the passage of the motion in the parliament unless extended by the legislative body.

The CCJ had also concluded that the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice James Patterson, had been invalidly appointed, and Justice Saunders urged that as a matter of the greatest public importance, “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”.

President Granger has since said he was prepared to appoint a new GECOM chairman, providing he could reach an agreement with the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on a list of acceptable candidates.


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