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THE Attorney General’s Chambers, on Saturday, rejected a statement from the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Guyana which said government was operating outside of the law and called the contention “fake and malicious.”

The statements were published in the Stabroek News and in other media outlets. According to the statement from the Attorney General’s Chambers
an excerpt of the Bar Association’s statement reads thus, “The constitutional duty and responsibility of the President was to fix a date for elections within the three-month period set out in the Constitution in the absence of a Parliamentary extension of that period, which extension the Bar Council notes was not sought and or obtained before the period expired.
“The constitutional duty and responsibility of the Guyana Elections Commission was to be ready to administer and supervise elections within the time encompassed by the three-month period so as to comply with the Constitution.
“By failing to abide by the clear and unambiguous terms of the Constitution, the Government of Guyana has abdicated its responsibility, violated the Constitution, is operating outside of the rule of law and in breach of internationally recognised standards of democracy.”

According to the AG’s statement, the Bar Council of the Guyana Bar Association must keep the profession noble.
“As Head of the Bar of Guyana, The Attorney General exhorts the GBA to be guided by the aphorism, ‘Ours is a higher and perpetual retainer’ for Justice,” the AG’s Chambers admonished in its statement. “The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) is expected to be independent and like Caesar’s wife – above reproach,” said the AG Chambers.
The AG’s statement said that the Bar Association is not expected to be the “minion” of any political party or grouping, or to mindlessly parrot its utterances.

 

“Above all, the GBA is expected to disseminate accurately the decisions of our Courts, more so our Apex Court– the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The GBA’s Bar Council has falsely stated, in its recent statement published in the Stabroek News and other media, that the ‘Government of Guyana is operating outside the Rule of Law ….’ The Government of Guyana rejects this contention as being false and malicious, as it cannot be supported by the Bar Council’s recourse to the Constitution and/or the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice,” said the statement from the AG’s Chambers.

The AG Chambers said that in respect of the Constitution, neither articles 106(6) or 106(7) provides for the President to fix a date for elections within a three month period.
“In fact, the CCJ recognized that it was for GECOM, not the government, to hold elections within the three months provided by article 106 (7) or such longer period approved by a two-thirds majority of Parliament,” the AG statement said.

The AG Chambers said that in the case of the CCJ, the Court frontally rejected the consequential orders sought by Counsel for the Leader of the Opposition including that, “The President shall by proclamation appoint a date for the holding of elections no later than 18th September, 2019 and that “The Government shall remain in Office and shall hold an election for the members of the National Assembly within three months of 18th June, 2018 i.e by 18th September, 2019.

The AG Chambers noted that the CCJ in rejecting the aforesaid consequential orders and others said,-

“Article 106 of the Constitution invests in the President and the National Assembly (and implicitly in GECOM), responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the elections which must be held. It would not, therefore, be right for the Court, by the issuance of coercive orders or detailed directives, to presume to instruct these bodies on how they must act and thereby preempt the performance by them of their constitutional responsibilities. It is not, for example, the role of the Court to establish a date on or by which the elections must be held, or to lay down timelines and deadlines that, in principle, are the preserve of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives. The Court must assume that these bodies and personages will exercise their responsibilities with integrity…”
The statement said that at the CCJ hearing, Counsel for the Attorney General of Guyana, Mr. Eamon Courtenay SC, had ably argued that if the Opposition did not agree to the two-thirds majority extension, then, by necessity, it would fall to the President, who has the remit under the Constitution, to both dissolve Parliament and proclaim a date for the elections after being advised by GECOM as to its readiness to deliver credible elections.