“He is an imposter, usurper” – former Attorney General Eamon Courtenay SC

― evidence concludes that Charrandass Persaud’s unconstitutional vote should be declared null and void

― day two of hearings continued today at CCJ

DPI, Guyana, Friday, May 10, 2019

“Having sat in caucus. Having sat in Cabinet and understood the decision that has been taken, to get and then say, ‘you know I don’t want to agree with 45/5. I think it should be 35/15 because I have listened to the Opposition,’ That is mythical Guyana.”

Attorney General Eamon Courtenay SC.

With this opening statement, former Attorney General, Eamon Courtenay SC began his closing arguments in the case being heard at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) regarding the December 21, 2018 vote.

Wrapping up the second day of arguments on the Coalition Government’s behalf, the Senior Counsel (SC) reiterated that party debates on issues being placed before the National Assembly, occur in the Cabinet and then “we go to debate before our political adversaries. That is the system.”

The SC opined that it is fanciful, “even in a Constitution not as rigid as Guyana’s” to believe that in the Caribbean, Heads of Governments “walk into Parliament and have no idea what the outcome is going to be, because we have geniuses who are going to listen to the Opposition and say ‘you know what? I’m now going to vote against the bill that I have sat in Cabinet. I have sat in caucus and I come and said I will support’. That is not the reality.”

The veteran jurist said it was the under the context as mentioned earlier that he was urging the CCJ to examine amendments 156 and 106 of Guyana’s Constitution. He reminded that the former is an anti-defection provision and observed that this issue was actually avoided by the opposing side who offered no other alternative explanation. When read along with 106, the legislation is intended to ensure a “fixed term government”, Courtenay added. The SC cited the example of a case in which discrepancies arose after a House Speaker absented himself from casting a vote. “The idea that a plain breach of the Constitution’s provisions could somehow be excused or overlooked on the basis of an alleged, deliberate activity of the Parliament has only to be stated as fundamentally unsound. The court has a solemn duty to uphold the Constitution which is the supreme law of the land.”

Former Attorney General Courtenay said a vote that is contrary to the Constitution is not validated, “by the equivalent of Article 165. Section 2 is to inoculate the proceedings from the viral vote. It does not cure the vote.”

In closing, the SC said his team’s arguments support two submissions;

  1. i) the CCJ has jurisdiction to investigate and test whether something taking place in Parliament, is contrary to a Constitutional provision;
  2. ii) Article 162 Section 2, does not validate an unconstitutional vote.

With regards to pleas by the opposing side that Charrandass Persaud should be treated kindly, the former attorney general reminded that the supporting evidence proved that the former MP pledged allegiance to Canada and did not swear in any affidavit denying this. SC Courtenay emphasised the fact that Persaud, who skipped Guyana immediately after the December 21 vote, is an attorney-at-law who swore that he knew the relevant sections of the Constitution of Guyana. He further argued that Persaud declared that he was qualified to be an MP and knew it was wrong and yet chose to remain silent. This provided enough evidence to conclude that Persaud is an imposter, usurper and his unconstitutional vote should be declared null and void; “and therefore the motion failed!” Senior Counsel Courtenay concluded.

The hearings into the case concerning the December 21, 2018 vote concluded today with the sides presenting their final arguments after two full days of oral presentations. President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders has indicated that the court now awaits the written submissions, after which a date will be announced for the ruling.

Paul Mc Adam.

Image: Kawsie Wishart.