CCJ urges consensus on way forward by June 24

NCM, GECOM unilateral appointment
…to facilitate consequential orders’ effect to rulings
…as diplomatic community, PSC calls for decision to be respected

By Jarryl Bryan
In the wake of its landmark ruling upholding the No Confidence Motion, many are questioning whether the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will order that elections be held by a certain date. But according to the court, parties will be given time to make submissions before it issues any orders.

The Caribbean Court of Justice

This was communicated by CCJ President, Justice Adrian Saunders, when he delivered the ruling from his bench on Tuesday. According to Saunders, parties will present their submissions on June 24. And he hinted that if the various sides cannot reach an agreement, the CCJ will take matters into their own hands.
“The rulings of the court are final, and it is now just a question of consequential orders. If, between now and the 24th, there is no concurrence on that issue, then we will have to find a way… I didn’t want to go there, because I am hoping that, on the 24th, you will come back and tell us that all sides have agreed on the consequences that follow. And the court will order accordingly,” the judge said.
According to Saunders, the CCJ wants to hear again from the parties involved, particularly on what should be the fate of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson. The court had earlier found that Patterson’s unilateral appointment was unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, Justice Jacob Wit noted that, in keeping with the June 24 date to return for submissions, he was “hoping for a happy marriage between principle and practicality”.
Diplomatic community
The diplomatic community did not wait long after the ruling to come out urging respect for the decision. In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn, United States Ambassador Sarah Ann-Lynch, Canadian High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee and the European Union noted the importance of respecting the ruling.
“The Caribbean Court of Justice has ruled, and it is important that all sides respect that ruling. We also encourage all to come to an agreement on the way forward,” the diplomats stated in their joint missive.
Meanwhile, the Private Sector Commission (PSC), in a statement, noted the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice that the no-confidence motion was validly passed on December 21, 2018 and the appointment of the GECOM Chairman was unconstitutional.
The PSC expressed optimism that an early consensual agreement can be reached between the President and the Leader of the Opposition on a new GECOM Chairman. To do this, the PSC noted, the parties involved have to meet.
“The Commission is heartened by the recommendation of the CCJ to the parties involved: to meet and agree on a course of action that will be in the best interest of the nation. The Private Sector Commission urges all Guyanese to respect the ruling and the statement by His Excellency President David Granger, that his Government will abide by the ruling of the Court.”
CCJ lauded
Meanwhile, Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram (one of the appellants in the No Confidence Motion) issued a statement in which he lauded the CCJ for ensuring that the constitution prevailed. He urged President David Granger to put country first and reach out to the Opposition.
“As a litigant in one of the no confidence cases, I was always more than moderately confident that the court would rule as it did. It was a victory for democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution of Guyana. It was also a vindication of the decision that Guyana should subscribe to the regional Court, whose reputation has no doubt been enhanced by today’s rulings.
“The Court, throughout the hearing of these appeals, continuously hinted at the need for dialogue between the Government and Opposition, and has affirmed this in its judgments. Even at, or more so now, citizens appeal to President Granger to seize this unique moment to heed the call of the CCJ, and through inspired leadership, put our country first, reach out to the Leader of the Opposition, restore democracy and move our country forward,” Ram added.
On Tuesday, the CCJ ruled that the No Confidence Motion of December 21, 2018 was validly passed against the Government. It also ruled that Alliance For Change (AFC) defector Charrandas Persaud was entitled to vote against his party list; and that, even as a dual citizen, his vote was still valid, as steps were not taken beforehand to remove him from the candidate list.
On the matter of Patterson, the court ruled that not only was his appointment unconstitutional, but the President ought to have given the Opposition Leader an explanation as to why consecutive lists of nominees were being rejected.