For three days in May, lawyers representing the APNU/AFC Administration and the PPP appeared in the Caribbean Court of Justice. The views expressed and arguments ventilated were instructive not only in relation to the cases under appeal but for the revelations of the differing underpinning philosophies that guide the actions of the parties.
Given that a General and Regional Election will happen sometime in the near future; it would be instructive to examine these differences for the benefit of the electorate.
On May 8, arguments were heard on the unilateral appointment of Justice (Retired) James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Arguments put forth by the QC representing the APNU/AFC were suggestive of a President whose powers were unreviewable and for which reasons did not have to be provided. PPP’s counsel referred to these powers being akin to those of a monarch, diplomatically avoiding the word ‘Dictator’.
Attorney General Basil Williams, SC, began his presentations to the august body with base remarks; political remarks more suited to a conversation at a fish shop than the CCJ. It won him no new friends. It was followed not by legal pleadings but thinly veiled threats of violence should the CCJ ruling not go the way of his Government. Williams urged that the court weigh consequences of a legal judgment and find in favour of an expedient one. This was unprecedented in the history of the CCJ and spoke volumes of what the APNU/AFC is all about; bullyism is part of the DNA.
Counsels Courtenay and Boston spent much time and energy arguing that our Parliament was merely a rubber stamp for the decisions taken by the President and his Cabinet. This view furthers the APNU/AFC philosophy of dictatorship as the preferred form of governance. None of the lawyers on the APNU/AFC payroll found merit in the word “representation” in the term “proportional representation”, in their opinion, persons on the list are merely there to serve the master of the list; mere names not individuals; no freedom of thought or action allowed.
The Court of Appeal’s decision that 34 is an absolute majority of 65 kept the Granger Administration legally alive past April 21, 2019, the arguments to support it which were presented varied from Williams’ name-dropping to Roysdale Forde’s global hunt for precedents in support of the half/round-up/plus one formula advanced as a solution. Forde’s diligence went unrewarded as it was pointed out his precedents all applied to even number parliaments. This exposed the local court as weak, pliable or worse. The APNU/AFC sees not three branches of Government, but rather a dictatorial Executive supported by a pliant Judiciary and rubberstamp National Assembly.
Editor, to those who would say that arguments made in a courtroom do not necessarily reflect the views of the Granger Administration, I would suggest that no leader or party that truly believes in democracy would allow such arguments as noted above to be put forward on its behalf and in a quest to deny the electorate an opportunity to speak through the ballot. Duplicity is a feature of the Granger Administration but even that would not forgive these transgressions for these arguments are a cure that kills the patient. The electorate has now seen four years of APNU/AFC, the words of Thomas Hobbes “Hell is truth seen too late” must resonate.