Leading up to next week Tuesday’s ruling in the No-Confidence motion and GECOM chairmanship appeals, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has dismissed a recent application by Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams S.C, for the regional court to hear new evidence on former parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud.
Persaud was heard admitting that he knew persons with dual citizenship could not hold seats in the National Assembly.
In refusing Williams’s application, the CCJ pointed out “…Given the scope and context of the legal issues as presented to the court, the adducing of further facts to establish that Mr. Charrandass Persaud was aware that he was a dual citizen at the material time will add little if any relevance at all to the sub-stratum of fact for the court’s consideration.”
The CCJ said that its decisions to refuse the application was made after reviewing the case management order the court made on March 29, last, granting an order for the urgent hearing of the consolidated appeals, abridging the timeline for filing documents and scheduling the timetable for the hearing of the appeal.
The CCJ also said that it also considered a subsequent order of the court on May 3, dismissing the application filed on behalf of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), for an order to extend time to file written submissions and to present oral submission in the hearing of the consolidated appeals.
According to the regional court, counsel for the AG had developed at least one aspect of his oral submissions on the premise that Persaud, being a lawyer, was well aware on the date that he was nominated that he was disqualified to be a member of the National Assembly because of his dual citizenship.
In his petition to the court last week, the AG had argued that the evidence, a programme titled ‘Conflict of Interest of Guyana’ posted on YouTube, is credible and may have an important influence on the outcome of the appeals.
In an affidavit sworn to by State Solicitor, Jennifer McCalman, she said that during the programme, Persaud was asked by the moderator, “Did you know that you could not sit in Parliament because of dual citizenship or whatever reason?”
According to McCalman, Persaud responded, “I knew that people with dual citizenship could not hold a seat in parliament. That was a given; that’s a constitutional article that we can’t get away from. What I did in fact argue, and when I told Khemraj, I said ‘I have a Canadian passport.’ Khemraj said, ‘Rass with you; a lot of people have Canadian passports. Look at Gail Teixeira and that’s what he said.”
Describing the programme, McCalman said, “The programme was styled a town hall meeting and persons were allowed to call into the programme. Mr Persaud called into the programme and when he did his picture and name were placed on the screen and his voice could be heard.
“From what I heard and observed Mr Persaud spoke freely and appeared to be relaxed and open in his responses to the issues raised with him.”
Further, the State Solicitor said that she recognized Persaud from the video because she has known him for over 19 years since they studied together at the University of Guyana. She said that she was informed by Williams that he is familiar with Persaud’s voice having heard him speak in the National Assembly.
According to McCalman she was also informed by Williams and verily believes that he was unaware of the programme until June 3, 2019 when it was brought to his attention by one Sean Ramdeholl.
She pointed out that in order to make out its case at the CCJ, Williams relied on circumstantial evidence to infer that Persaud knew he could not vote in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018.
Nevertheless, she stated that Williams shared the link to the video with Belizean Senior Counsel, Eamon Courtenay, who advised that an application should be made to the court for consideration of the new evidence.
Thus far, Joseph Harmon, Carl Greenidge, Rupert Roopnaraine and Dominic Gaskin who held ministerial positions in the government resigned because they were dual citizens. On the Opposition side, Gail Teixeira, Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Anamayah had signaled an intention to resign.
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