"People Decide Who Governs, Not A Court Ruling"

PM Ralph Gonsalves

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says it is the people who are eligible to vote in democratically held elections that determine who should be their parliamentary representatives, not Court hearings.

He expressed that view on radio Friday morning, while reacting to the judgement delivered by Justice Esco Henry on the election petitions brought before the Courts by the Opposition New Democratic Party to go forward.

Gonsalves said this is just another step in a legal process and the judgement does not affect the functioning of the government in any way.

“We have Justice Cottle who said the petition was defective and could not be cured; he came to a conclusion in the law different than Justice Henry”.

“I do not want people to be going about saying the law is an ass, am just saying that two Judges have held a different position on precisely the same legal matter”.

Gonsalves told listeners that Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan had written to the Chief Justice to empanel a different court of appeal to review the court of appeal judgement concerning a waiver on the apparent bias issue.

“Remember they had gone and they had ruled that  Justice Cottle has a clear basis, the court of appeal went out of their way to say it does not mean there any real basis; it was an apparent bias”.

“But Astaphan had argued before the courts that even if you had claimed that there be a clear basis, the lawyers for petitioners had gone along with the proceedings and had explicitly said they had every confidence in Justice Cottle hearing the matter”.

“In other words, they went along with everything, and having lost they tried for want of a better word, a forensic and judicial ambush”.

Gonsalves said Astaphan had asked for that aspect to be reviewed by another empanel court of appeal; he noted the matter is currently before the Chief Justice.

Gonsalves said the written Judgement had not been given yet, but when in hand the government lawyers will study the document and advised accordingly.

The Prime Minister further stated that the lawyers are also in consultation with another lawyer Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes of Trinidad and Tobago.

“So this is just another judicial moment in an ongoing legal battle, in all of this the people must remember there was a government that was duly elected, Caricom, OAS and Commonwealth observers said the election results reflect the will of the people”.

Gonsalves said it is not the first time we have legal challenges to elections; peopledo that all the time. However, it is becoming the catch of the day.

He says while the law is necessary, it is important to recognise representative democracy.

“The courthouse does not determine who represents you, people who serve you are those whom people voted for in an election, and there will be other elections in SVG, whether before or at the time constitutionally due in 2020”.

“Judges do not decide who your representatives are; I just want the people of the SVG to recognise this”.

“All am saying, there is confusion about the law, which should be a very straightforward matter, but two judges come to conclusions on the law diametrically opposed, and that cannot be an end to the matter”.

2 Comments

  1. Hmmm, maybe the prime minister should say the same thing about Venezuela, where the courts there have invalidated the will of the people on many occasions…

  2. According to the government’s lawyer, Anthony Astaphan, their appeal of this decision to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal may be rejected for hearing. I assume that this may be because the justices may argue that the substantive issues of the case should now be heard and that this particular appeal should be set aside pending an adverse outcome of the case against government.
    If I am correct, the PM may simply pull the plug and call a general election knowing that an adverse decision in the case — that the ULP, using their surrogate Winston Gaymes and others, deliberately stole the election in Central Leeward and North Windward– may cost him his grip on power, even though it would be hard for the NDP to prove that there was theft as opposed to gross incompetence in printing, securing, and counting the ballots, the latter trait of generalized ignorance being inherent in our Caribbean civilization — a trait these West Indian lawyers-cum-jurists all too aware of — and hence insufficient grounds for overturning the election results.

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