President Bharrat Jagdeo is suing daily columnist, Frederick Kissoon, and Kaieteur News for over $10M, claiming libel in a publication on June 28, last.
Chief Justice (ag), Ian Chang, yesterday granted an interim injunction, filed by Attorneys-at-law Anil Nandlall and Euclin Gomes, restraining Kissoon, Kaieteur News’ Editor-in-Chief Adam Harris, and the National Media and Publishing Company Limited, publisher of Kaieteur News, from reprinting the words or similar ones as contained in the column.
In an ex-parte application for the interim injunction, the President claimed that the article suggests that he is a racist and that “by extension, the State and Government of Guyana, practise racism as an ideology, dogma, philosophy and policy…”
The Head of State also said that he understood the article to mean he and by extension, “the State and Government of Guyana, discriminate against Afro-Guyanese on the basis of their race and ethnicity.”
Additionally, the President states that Kissoon inferred that the State and Government of Guyana, have an institutionalized policy to degrade, de-humanize and pulverize Guyanese of African descent.
“…that I, and, by extension, the State and Government of Guyana, routinely act in contravention of Article 149 of the Constitution which guarantees to all citizens of this country protection from racial discrimination as a fundamental right and freedom…”
The article, the President claimed in his affidavit, also suggested that he, and by extension, the State and Government of Guyana, use unconstitutional and unlawful methods including, thuggery, force and intimidation, to silence critics and that they have contravened the fundamental right and freedom of citizens of Guyana to express, communicate and disseminate their views and opinions as guaranteed by Article 146 of the Constitution of Guyana and are guilty of a criminal offence.
“…that I am guilty of violating the Constitution of Guyana and therefore liable to be removed from office under Article 180 of the Constitution; that I am unfit to hold the high Constitutional offices of the Executive President, the Constitutional Head of State, Head of Government, the Supreme Executive Authority and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”
The President claimed that the “libel” caused him and the entire government of Guyana great public embarrassment, “held us up to odium and ridicule, both nationally and internationally.
“Additionally, Guyana is a land of six races who co-exist in harmony despite their racial, ethnic, cultural, social, religious and political differences.”
The affidavit argued that it is a fact of notoriety that as a society, Guyana has had, at intervals, social and political
problems whose genesis touch and concern race and ethnicity which resulted in violence and countrywide mayhem and loss of lives.
“For the respondents/defendants to publish the aforesaid the allegations is not only libelous but is also malicious, irresponsible and inflammatory, calculated and designed to excite racial hostilities amongst the people of Guyana and to cause a racial rift between the people of Guyana and their democratically elected Government.”
President Jagdeo also said in the court documents that he would undertake to pay for any damages the respondents/defendants may suffer if it is determined that the injunction sought was wrongful.
“I am in receipt of a monthly salary and emoluments in excess of one million Guyana dollars and I have in excess of five million dollars in a commercial bank and I therefore have sufficient means to satisfy any award of damages that this Honourable Court may award against me should the grant of this injunction subsequently be found to be wrongful.”
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