‘Find consensus’

Attorney General Basil Williams

…CCJ grants more time for leaders to agree on political solution
…sets July 1 for written submissions; July 12 judgment

THE Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has granted more time to the leaders here to find political consensus in relation to the consequential orders to flow from last week’s ruling that quashed the appointment of the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and also uphold the no-confidence vote against the government.

The parties have been given until July 1, 2019 to file written submissions and will meet again on July 12, 2019, for final judgment. President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders outlined that the submissions for July 1 must concisely guide the court, based on the positions of the parties, on the consequential orders it should make.
Justice Saunders made the decision on Monday afternoon at the court’s location in Trinidad and Tobago which seeks to encourage a resolution to the issue of when fresh elections can be held in Guyana.

Initially, the CCJ, having upheld the No-Confidence vote against the Government and simultaneously quashing the appointment of Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM, was expected to lay out the consequential orders on Monday.
However, deliberations on Monday between the CCJ and the attorneys representing the parties proved that additional information and deliberations are required before the court can come to an informed conclusion.

“We’re going to ask that the parties make written submissions on the consequential orders that the court can and should make in respect of each of the sets of cases on which judgement was given,” Justice Saunders stated. The submissions are restricted to no more than 20 pages; it must be typed in font size of at least ‘12’ and with at least 1.5 line spacing.

Those to make 20-page submissions on behalf of their parties include Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes; Senior Counsel, Eamon Courtenay; Attorney General, Basil Williams and GECOM’s Attorney, Stanley Marcus.

If other parties wish to make submissions, they have been allotted a 10-page restriction or less.

Leading up to the period of July 12, 2019, the CCJ expects the leaders of the country’s two main political forces to meet to come to an agreement on some or all the matters in discussion.

While President David Granger, following the CCJ’s ruling on July 18, extended an invitation to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for a meeting to be held to discuss the current political situation in Guyana, the leaders have not yet had the chance to meet. It is unclear whether Jagdeo has responded to the President’s request to meet, although he has given the undertaking to meet with the Guyanese leader.

Williams, in his submission to the court on Monday, informed that the President still awaits word from the Opposition Leader on his availability to meet and remains committed to hosting such a meeting. “Between now and July 12, we would encourage the parties and, in particular, the leaders of the lists — His Excellency the President and the Honourable Leader of the Opposition — with their Counsel or with their Counsel being available to advise them and the Attorney General being advised as well or advising himself, we would encourage a meeting or meetings of that nature to take place,” Justice Saunders stated on Monday.

“I’m hoping that if or when the parties meet, they can find some consensus on the way forward but, be that as it may, the court will be open to naturally receiving your suggestions as to a consensual way forward.”

While some attorneys representing their parties attended the court session at its location in Trinidad and Tobago, some others attended locally at Guyana’s Court of Appeal via video conferencing.

In Trinidad were Attorneys Sanjeev Datadin, Ganesh Hira and Stephen Singh representing Charrandass Persaud in the Charrandass Persaud v Compton Reid, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Attorney General, Bharrat Jagdeo and Joseph Harmon case.
Present along with Mendes were Attorneys Anil Nandlall, Chandrapratest Satram, Davesh Maharaj and others on behalf of the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo. Present, too, was GECOM’s Attorney, Senior Counsel Stanley Marcus.

During the latter part of the CCJ livestream, Guyana’s feed to the Court of Appeal experienced some technical difficulties, but the decision of Justice Sunders was eventually conveyed to those present at the Court of Appeal.

Coming out of the Court of Appeal, and asked whether anything can be done to speed up the process towards a meeting between the two leaders, Williams stated that this can be addressed. However, he reminded that the Leader of the Opposition has been issued an invitation and the ball is now in his court to respond in favour of a meeting with the President.