Indian High Commissioner to Guyana,Venkatakchalam MahalingamBy Vahnu ManikchandThe outgoing Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatakchalam Mahalingam, is urging the country’s political leaders to heed the advice of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and discuss the way forward for Guyana.At Monday’s post-judgement hearing, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders urged that President David Granger meet with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to come up with a consensus on the way forward and as such, postponed the date to issue consequential orders on the No-Confidence Motion to July 12, 2019.High Commissioner Mahalingam underscored the need for the parties to do as advised by the Court.“I’m sure the consequential orders are mostly going to be a form of direction for both the political parties. But the hint given is that they should sit together and they should come out with a consensus and decide what the way forward is. So, therefore, we would like both parties to sit together, as advised by the Caribbean Court of Justice, and decide what is the best way forward for the democratic process to continue,” he posited.Democratic processContending that his country does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, the Indian diplomat emphasised, however, that they would like for the democratic process to take over and finally have this issue, which has been languishing for the past seven months, resolved.“The Caribbean Court of Justice understands what has been going on in Guyana and they wanted to put both parties together and arrive at a consensus. I don’t know, if consensus is not arrived at by both parties, what would be the order of the Caribbean Court of Justice or what would be the direction in the end, but we need to wait to see… But I’m sure Guyana will definitely find a solution for its betterment,” Mahalingam stated during an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday.Following the June 18 rulings, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders urged the two sides to meet to find consensus before last Monday’s hearing for consequential orders. However, President David Granger sent an invitation to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday for them to meet after Monday’s hearing. During that hearing, Justice Saunders expressed disappointment that the two leaders were yet to meet.“These matters are of the highest constitutional significance… and it beats me that the Leader of the Opposition and the President, and their respective counsel, had not met to discuss the issues that confront us. Everybody says these are important issues but it seems as though the same degree of urgency and deliberation that are expected of the Courts, we don’t see them being reflected in the behaviour of the political directorate and that I think is unfortunate,” the CCJ President expressed.In fact, he went on to note that the case puts the Court in an “awkward position” since it does not want to make political decisions, but at the same time, it has a remit to ensure that the rule of law is observed. This, Justice Saunders noted, however, can only happen if the political leaders display a spirit of compromise and reasonableness, which would allow the rule of law to take effect.The CCJ President’s comments were made after Attorney General Basil Williams told the Court that President Granger had acted “forthwith” and invited the Opposition Leader to a meeting on the relevant matters in relation to the cases but that meeting was yet to happen. In fact, he indicated that the Leader of the Opposition was yet to respond to the invite.However, at a press conference after Monday’s hearing, Jagdeo called out the Attorney General for deliberately misleading the CCJ. According to Jagdeo, a letter was indeed dispatched to his office but stated that he was being invited for a meeting after the June 24 consequential ruling, with no date or time indicated.Nevertheless, a response letter was sent on Tuesday indicated to that Jagdeo is prepared to meet with the President “at any time and on a daily basis if needs be”.Last week, the CCJ ruled that the No-Confidence Motion tabled in Guyana’s National Assembly in December 2018, had been validly passed, and in another case, found that the unilateral appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice James Patterson, was flawed and unconstitutional.After the Trinidad-based regional Court reiterated on Monday that GECOM has no chairman, Government announced on Tuesday that Justice Patterson has resigned.The CCJ President had also noted that the appointment process of a new GECOM Chair had to be reengaged and according to Jagdeo, in the missive to Government, he is prepared to meet and address the appointment of a new Chairman consistent with the ruling of the regional Court on June 18, 2019.
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