Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 December 2021, 10:09 by Denis Chabrol
Even as Attorney General Anil Nandlall announced that government would be appealing a Guyana Court of Appeal decision that it has jurisdiction to hear an election petition appeal, Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall on Wednesday defended his description of the Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings and Justice of Appeal Dawn Gregory as “biased”.
“The next step is that the government will appeal the decision. We have asked the Court to stay its hands until we take the necessary steps going forward in the hierarchical structure of our judiciary,” Mr. Nandlall said a social media broadcast.
Mr. Dharamlall has since reacted sharply to his call for the Justices of Appeal to be removed, in the face of strong condemnation by at least two People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) members.
“As a citizen who stood guard at GECOM during the night shift to ensure that our ballots were not tampered with by agents of APNUAFC in and out of GECOM, I am entitled to share my views in a democratic country,” he told Demerara Waves Online News/ News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM.
Mr. Dharamlall publicly called on social media for Justices Cummings and Gregory to be “defrocked” from their judicial positions because they again ruled in favour of the PNCR-led A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that the Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the High Court’s dismissal of an opposition election petition on procedural grounds.
But PNCR Central Executive Member Annette Ferguson and PNCR member Lurlene Nestor have condemned the Local Government Minister for disregarding the separation of powers between the executive, of which he is a part, and the judiciary.
Reacting to their criticism that he was “disrespectful and out of order”, Mr. Dharamlall doubled down and took aim at his critics. “The last people to speak of good governance and democracy should be those associated with attempts to rig elections and so Ferguson and others in the APNUAFC need to stop speaking from both sides of their mouths. The attempts by utensils such as Ferguson and Nestor go a far way in distinguishing them elements of a bygone party defeated by a democracy,” he said.
Himself critical of the Appellate Court judges, for his part, the Attorney General defended the right by anyone to criticise decisions of the court. “The judiciary is not immune from criticism without fear of being cited for contempt. The judiciary is to suffer the scrutiny of the ordinary man and sometimes outspoken criticism of the ordinary man. However, one can’t attribute an improper or an illicit motive to the judiciary for a particular decision,” he said.
The petition, if heard, would seek to address a number of allegations of electoral fraud in the March 2, 2o20 general and regional elections. The coalition continues to maintain that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was declared the winner based on invalid votes and fraud.
But the PPP, the organised private sector, international observers and Western Nations had cited efforts to manipulate the outcome in favour of APNU+AFC especially in Region Four. A number of then senior and other officials of the Guyana Election Commission have been charged with fraud related to the elections.