Justice Claudette Singh's order

What the people say about...
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
January 29, 2001

Justice Claudette Singh has ordered that the government remain in office until new elections are held but with some limitations. We asked the man/woman-in-the-street to comment on Justice Singh's order. Their views follow:

Imran Majeed - senior secondary school student: 'The ruling to me is contradictory and highly ambiguous. The petition is also confusing. It smacks of dishonesty in many regards. There is the agreement between the political parties to use the voters card yet it was the issue that caused the elections to be voided. She said there were massive flaws and irregularities but she did not find the evidence to deem the elections fraudulent. In her ruling on the petition she declared the elections void because of the unconstitutional use of the voter ID card but does not pronounce on the illegality of the government.

Fernley Clarke - furniture designer: 'The order made, might have been of necessity but it was disappointing. You invalidated the elections based on the unconstitutionality of the voter ID card and say that you have no jurisdiction to order the president or government to demit office, yet, you are saying that an illegal government must stay in office. It is hard to comprehend. It appears to be double standards. Having voided the elections, I would have felt better if Justice Claudette Singh had given the government the option of doing the honourable thing of resigning or staying on in office illegally or with the consent of the parliamentary parties until fresh elections are held. Something does not appear right to me.'

Don Gomes - optometrist: 'The people we supposedly voted for and supposedly put in office have failed us. If the parliamentarians are the lawmakers and they make laws inconsistent with that of the constitution that alone tells us something about the level of our representation there and what the government represents as it has the majority seats there. Well the government must remain in office even though the elections were void and we must live with it. To build back confidence in the government at this stage, the only thing left to judge them by right now is how well they can dance on the Mashramani parade this year. I think Justice Claudette Singh has made us big though. Her ruling was wise even if it was not the fairest. She took the interest of the country in her decision. She had to behave like the mother of both the People's Progressive Party/Civic and the People's National Congress. She is so big that I will put her photo on a palm tree and parade with it on Mash Day. I might have to put a cup on it as well. After all I am not supposed to be partial.'

Sheik Dinool - vendor: 'The judge's ruling was fair. She found no fraud but found that all the parties made a mistake and a big one when they all agreed to use the voter ID card. She did the right thing to let the government stay in power than to let the state descend into a state of anarchy. She did not have the power to remove the government. As far as I am concerned no court in the world has the power to remove government from office. And protesting right now could only cause hardship on ourselves but on the whole nation in general.'

Winston Beresford - electrician: 'I think it was the best decision in the interest of the country. Elections are less than two months away and if the ruling had said that there was no government, we might have had some problems. If she had ruled that the elections were fraudulent then the government might have had to resign. I am not looking after the interest of the PPP/Civic or the interest of the PNC, I am concerned about our livelihood as a people. The decision is the best even though it might not have been satisfactory to those who are strongly opposed to this current government. March 19 will be the proving point. If I was the judge I would have left it as it was in the interest of the nation.'

Gavin Campbell - student: 'I agree with the ruling that the government should stay in office not because I am an agent of the PPP or the PNC but because I feel that law and order has to prevail and someone has to manage the affairs of the state. To have set up an interim government or interim management committee to run the country for less than two months would have been unthinkable. I am a Guyanese and as far as I am concerned, we are a very racial people and it shows especially at elections. We need to forget about race for the upcoming elections and hold the cleanest and fairest elections we have ever had. After that, whoever wins we give them our support and then get down to working together to develop this country.'

Cheryl Joseph - housewife: What confuses me is how she can say that she does not have the authority to ask the government to demit office but in the same way she has the authority to tell a government which she made illegal by voiding an entire elections that it has the right to stay in office until such time. Something has to be wrong with the laws.

Rajendra Etwaroo - chauffeur: 'Her decision is wise because elections are around the corner. If she had said that the government should resign or make it optional, things right now might have been chaotic. The time is too short to have a change in administration. The limitations put on government is also good especially the use of the state media not to promote itself except through paid advertisements. We should all be concentrating now on the holding of a free and fair elections with everyone exercising his or her right to take part in the country's democratic processes.'

Lloyd Scotland - seaman: 'I cannot see how she makes a ruling one day voiding the elections and on the following day declaring that the government elected to office in that illegal election must stay in office. To me that is going back on her word and such decision is not doing the country any good. I thought she would have made a decision which would have reflected the nullity of the elections as no one was giving or taking. It was a kind of an anti-climax.'

Irene Shepherd - private sector employee: 'I am not pleased with the ruling on Friday because it was not the right decision. I thought that she would have emphasised the illegality of the government based on her previous ruling instead of saying that it should stay in office. To me she has contradicted herself. It is not clear to me.'

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today