– matter set for November 7th
A court action filed to force Government to hold elections before December 7th, has been set for next Tuesday, after
the matter came up yesterday before Chief Justice (Ag), Ian Chang.
According to Attorney-at-Law, Saphier Husain-Subedar, the matter was yesterday called for the first time before Chang but the case did not proceed. This was because the judge wanted more time to study the “complex” matter.
Husain-Subedar, who is also leader of the National Independent Party on Tuesday, filed a court action asking for orders that will compel Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker, and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hold Local Government Elections (LGE) between November 1st and December 7th.
Yesterday, the lawyer said he has since written Minister Whittaker giving him the option of having the case withdrawn if he agrees to call the elections.
In his “Notice of Demand”, the lawyer who gained a reputation of taking on constitutional matters, told Whittaker that he has seven days to “carry out your statutory duties in accordance with the Local Authorities (Election) Act Chapter 28:03 of the Laws of Guyana Section (35) (as amended) and by order appoint a day for the holding of the Local Government Elections within the 1st November and the 7th December, inclusive pursuant to the Local Government Act Cap 28:02 Sec 22 (3) of the Laws of Guyana and the Municipal and District Council Act Cap 28:01 Sec (3).”
If the Minister does not reply before October 8, the lawyer said, he will consider it a refusal and “appropriate actions will be taken.”
The notice was also copied to Leader of A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), Brigadier (ret’d), David Granger; Khemraj Ramjattan, Leader of Alliance for Change and Jaipaul Sharma, of the Justice For All Party.
Husain-Subedar, on Tuesday, filed an ex-parte motion, asking for an Order or Rule Nisi to be directed to the Minister of
Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker, to show cause why a final order should not be made that will see the holding of Local Government Elections between November 1st and December 7th, 2014.
The motion is also asking for orders that will force the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to conduct the Local Government Elections by secret ballot on the date appointed by the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development.
Husain-Subedar is also requesting an order directing Whittaker and GECOM to file answers within14 days.
The court action comes at a time when the Opposition and the diplomatic community have been intensifying pressure on Government to hold the elections, the last of which took place in 1994. There have been a number of protests by the Opposition over the delays, with the diplomatic community even issuing statements calling for elections. However, the process has been stymied by delays, with Government objecting to the number of dead persons on the voters’ lists, among other things.
The lawyer argued that elections are supposed to be held every three years between November 1st and December 7, as is mandated in the law.
The lawyer also said that GECOM does not have a constitutional authority to cause the deferral of Local Government Elections for over 16 years.
The lawyer contended that the postponement of Local Government Elections for so many years violates his and the rights of other Guyanese.
“I shall contend that the failure to hold periodic regular elections for Local Government from 1994 to date, is in contravention of my rights guaranteed under Article 147 of the Constitution, “the right to form or belong to a political party” including my “right to vote and/or to contest periodical elections.”
Husain-Subedar recently also hit the spotlight after he was refused a new passport because of a new measure introduced
by the Passport Office. Immigration Officers refused to accept the lawyer’s birth certificate, saying that it was not issued within the last six months.
The document is a key requirement for new passports. The lawyer went to court and successfully got the Ministry of Home Affairs to reverse the decision.
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