Judge's orders `wise, just'

Guyana Chronicle
January 27, 2001

THE governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) yesterday welcomed Justice Claudette Singh's orders in the December 15, 1997 elections petition case, saying these were "wise and just".

"We are happy with these orders which we believe to be wise and just and fully in accordance with the legal authorities we cited and with the submissions we made", said Mr Ralph Ramkarran, Senior Counsel, reading a prepared statement at a news briefing at PPP/C Freedom House headquarters in Georgetown.

"Any other course would have been outside the scope of the judge's power which she recognised by acknowledging that she had no jurisdiction to order the President and Parliament to demit office", he argued.

Ramkarran, a member of the PPP Central Executive was the lead attorney for the Elections Commission and related respondents in the petition brought by Esther Perreira, a supporter of the main opposition People's National Congress (PNC).

"Also, any other course would have had the potential of leading to instability, anarchy and chaos.

"These are the last things that Guyana needs at any time, but especially with the elections around the corner", he said.

The PPP/C said the electorate deserves an "atmosphere of peace and tranquility to be able to listen to the debates and make up their minds."

"While we are undoubtedly pleased at the final outcome of this matter, this is not a time for claiming victory or for triumphalism.

"Just as we announced that we accepted the decision of the trial judge when she ruled against us, we now call on all other parties to announce their acceptance of these consequential orders", the alliance said.

Ramkarran noted that his side had argued that "assuming that it was correct that the judge's order meant that the government was not entitled to remain in office, the court should apply the doctrine of necessity and order that the government remain in office until the elections and that all acts and things done be validated."

He pointed out that lawyers representing the two parties met twice and on a third occasion with the judge.

"Some progress was made but the fundamental differences remained", he reported.

The PNC side had demanded that the government step down and be replaced by an interim mechanism until a new government was elected on March 19.

Ramkarran said the judge in the end "agreed with our arguments and ruled that she had no power to order that the President, the government and the Parliament should demit office."

PPP/C Executive Member, attorney Mr Khemraj Ramjattan noted that no legal authority was cited to the judge that she had power to order the President and the government to leave office.

"What she has done (by the consequential orders yesterday) is to correct a legal anomaly created by her decision (last week on the ID cards)", he argued.

Ramkarran told reporters that the point the judge made about using the state media for "election purposes through paid advertisements" referred to the state media not being abused for elections purposes.

"This is the situation as it ought to be and has been", he said.

"The judge is saying that the state media should not be abused in favour of the PPP/C", he explained.

PPP/C member, attorney, Mr Hubert Rodney said the government will not use the state media for propaganda.

"The question is whether the government is using the state media for propaganda", he said, adding that all political parties should have access to the state media if they are going to pay.

PPP/C Executive member, Ms Gail Texieira said some people should disavow themselves of the "paramountcy of the party which we lived under the PNC".

"There's no paramountcy of the party now...the PNC is so much in the mould of the paramountcy of the party that they cannot see anything else", she stressed.

Rodney felt yesterday was a "good day for the rule of law...there are no winners or losers."

He commended Justice Singh for her decision saying it showed the "courage of a judge" and the judgement was part of the rule of law.

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