Government holds office by virtue of court order

Stabroek News
February 6, 2001

The government and other institutions elected in 1997 are today functioning under and by virtue of the order of Justice Claudette Singh. This has been clarified in the formal order of court entered on February 2, 200l, a copy of which has been seen by Stabroek News.

On March 15, Justice Singh had deemed the 1997 elections unlawful on account of her finding that the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act No 22 of 1997 (requiring the use of Voter ID cards) was in contradiction of the Constitution.

In the order of court entered on February 2, 2001 implementing the consequential orders made by the judge on January 26, 2001 it is ordered " that fresh National and Regional elections shall be held ...on or before March 31, 2001."

It is further ordered "that of necessity to uphold the rule of law, to prevent the creation of a legal vacuum with grave consequential chaos and in the interests of effective government, the President and his Cabinet, as presently constituted, shall perform their respective functions of office, not under or by virtue of the declared unlawful National and Regional elections but under and by virtue of the Order of this Court from the date of this order until the date on which fresh elections as aforesaid are held on or before March 31, subject to the following limitations:
a. No legislation shall be introduced in Parliament except those required for the proper and timely holding of fresh... elections and or in compliance with the terms of the Herdmanston Accord.

b. No substantial contracts for the execution of public works shall be awarded without the permission of this court.

c. The state owned media shall only be used for election purposes through paid advertisements."

The order permits Parliament to function for the necessary and limited purposes of passing the above legislation and "any further working out of the terms of the Herdmanston Accord" and it shall stand dissolved by Nomination Day.

Regional assemblies and regional administrations are permitted to function up to the new elections.

All national and regional executive acts performed after December 15 1997 "which would otherwise be lawful were it not for their invalidity due to the decision of the court are temporarily validated until such time as newly elected... representatives can validate, amend, modify or revoke them according to law, of necessity and in order to uphold the rule of law to preserve obligations and other legal effects as if they had arisen under the provisions of valid enactments...."

All legislative enactments including subsidiary legislation and by-laws made between December 15, 1997 and the date of the order are granted temporary validity until the new legislature validates them.

It is further ordered that the costs incurred in the petition are to be taxed unless otherwise agreed upon and paid by the Guyana Elections Commission certified fit for senior counsel (Peter Britton) and counsel (Raphael Trotman) for the Petitioner ,two senior counsel for the 4th named respondent Desmond Hoyte (Rex McKay and Keith Massiah) and Attorney at law (Saphier Hussein) for the 8th and 12th named respondent.

Elections Commission Chairman Joe Singh told reporters last week that the Commission would honour its obligations regarding costs and suggested this would require an application to the Head of the Presidential Secretariat for relief.

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