Lawyers to consult parties and meet again today
January 25, 2001
With tomorrow's deadline looming, lawyers involved in the elections petition will meet again this morning to try to reach consensus on the country's pre-election governance.
Yesterday afternoon's meeting, the result of an initiative by Justice Claudette Singh, started just before two o'clock and lasted about three quarters of an hour. All the major players attended: Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran, Rex McKay, Miles Fitzpatrick and Peter Britton and attorneys-at-law Khemraj Ramjattan, Raphael Trotman, Saphier Hussain and Llewelyn John.
The lawyers remained silent afterwards, divulging no details except to say they would meet today at 11:00 am after consulting their clients. Justice Singh had said she would make an order on Friday morning, incorporating any agreement. Should no consensus be reached, she would rule on the legal arguments previously presented by the lawyers.
Stabroek News understands that at yesterday's meeting parties merely stated their positions as to what should happen as a consequence of the judge ruling the 1997 elections invalid. This was essentially whether the government should leave office, or, if it stayed, what limits, if any, should be put in place given its invalidity. There was no softening of positions and no real negotiations took place. The lawyers therefore took a decision to confer with their respective clients.
Ramkarran, who is the de facto lawyer for the government, had indicated on Tuesday that while he was confident the judge would rule in her consequential order that the government remain in office largely unfettered, he realised the importance of consensus amongst the parties.
McKay, representing PNC leader Desmond Hoyte, had argued that the government should demit office and a Transitional National Council be formed to run the country until the elections.
In between, is the position of Miles Fitzpatrick who has advocated that the government remain, but only in a caretaker capacity with limits on its use of state media and other state property.
The need for the judge to make a consequential order extends from her ruling last week Monday that the 1997 elections were invalid because the legislation directing the compulsory use of voter ID cards was found to be unconstitutional.
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