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Survivors of boating tragedy appear in court

Survivors of boating tragedy appear in court

by staff writer

NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 13, CMC – Two days after 22 Haitians were buried after they drowned while attempting to enter the Bahamas by sea earlier this month, the 18 who survived the ordeal have been charged with illegally entering the country.

The 17 men and one woman appeared before Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux telling her they were “looking for a better life” when they boarded they boarded the 40-foot vessel that ran aground in waters off Abaco on February 3.

So far 31 bodies had been recovered but the authorities said that nine were in such poor condition that they were buried in Abaco. The authorities have since called off the search for other survivors.

Magistrate Turnquest-Deveaux thanked the survivors for their early plea of guilt and turned them over to immigration officials for processing.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Darren Henfield, said that Nassau has in the past warned of the dangers associated with the illegal migration by sea to the Bahamas.

He said the survivors will be repatriated and the Department of Immigration also said that there will be no special treatment for the survivors.

“The department’s policy in reference to the handling of the illegal migrants remains the same. There has been no change in regard to this policy,” the department said.

During the funeral service on Sunday, Bishop Simeon Hall told the mourners “to be poor and destitute (in Haiti) is still far better than to be dead and gone.”

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CARICOM reiterates call for peaceful solution to Venezuela crisis

CARICOM reiterates call for peaceful solution to Venezuela crisis

by staff writer

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries Monday reiterated the need for a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela even as they said they continue to follow closely “the unsatisfactory and increasingly volatile situation” in the South American country, reiterating their position of a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Caracas..

“It is with grave concern that we also follow the highly polarised and polarising circumstances surrounding Venezuela,” Barbados Ambassador to the United Nations, Liz Thompson, said as she addressed a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) In the Trusteeship Council on Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the 15-member CARICOM grouping, the Barbados diplomat said the regional countries are also fully aware of “words of bitterness and blame coming from both sides.

Barbados Ambassador to United Nations, Liz Thompson.

“The thoughts and sabre rattling by the internal and external contenders in this deteriorating situation. In all of this we are most concerned for and motivated by the plight of the people of Venezuela, who have been rendered powerless pawns…while others play a form of geo-political chess and brinksmanship,”she told the meeting.

Last week, St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, led a CARICOM delegation to Uruguay for talks aimed at ending the political crisis in the South American country where Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, backed by the United States and several other western countries, has declared himself the interim leader of Venezuela.

But Russia, China and Cuba are among countries that are supporting President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into office last month for a second consecutive term as head of state.

The governments of Mexico and Uruguay had called for the conference with representatives from the main countries and international organisations that hold a neutral position towards Venezuela.

Harris said the Montevideo Mechanism adopted at the conference presents “the only objective mechanism” to address the complex political situation in Venezuela.

The Montevideo Mechanism is regarded as the initiative in response to the call by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to find a pathway to a peaceful resolution through dialogue and from a position of respect for International Law and Human Rights.

“We urge all parties inside and outside of Venezuela in the interest of the wellbeing of the people of that country to give the Montevideo Mechanism the time and space it needs to work. These United Nations know the painful experience of history both ancient and recent, the high and awful price of military intervention and the scourge of war,” Thompson said, adding that the CARICOM countries do not choose “one side or the other.

“We choose principle, the principle which led to the founding of this United Nations and the inclusion in its charter of Article 24, which calls for member states to refrain from the threat or the use of force.

“The principle which birthed Article 21 of the Charter of the Organisation of American States which recognises territorial inviolability. The principles of human rights, international law of the rule of law, the sanctity of national sovereignty, and the pivotal principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes, the pursuit of peace, of dialogue and compromise to ensure the preservation of the dignity and worth of the human person”.

Thompson told the conference that these principles are at the root of multilateralism.

“Indeed they are the very foundation on which this house in which we sit was built. Today we re-affirm our adherence to these principles. Critical for us too is the maintenance of the Caribbean and its wider region as a zone of peace.

“We remain steadfast in our view that economic strangulation and military intervention are not only counter to these principles, but will only exacerbate the already great suffering of the people of Venezuela”.

The Barbadian diplomat said that it is the contention of the Caribbean that ‘there must be a political solution that is crafted and owned by the Venezuelan people themselves and by their leaders.

“We support and call for a pathway to peace, forged not by threats but by dialogue. Not by escalating the tensions but by cooling them down. Not by marksmanship but by mediation. Not by the suffocation of sanctions but by the tools of diplomacy”.

She said those who wished for a peaceful solution and the prosperity of Venezuelans must actively encourage dialogue “where both sides seat, both sides talk and both sides listen, so that the common ground on which they can move forward may be found”.

Thompson said that it is in pursuit of this broad objective that CARICOM has offered itself to facilitate dialogue among all parties with a view to creating a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the South American country.

“We know too from the lesson of history …that peace and prosperity are indivisible. The people of Venezuela have already suffered enough. They deserve to live in peace. They deserve a future that offers prosperity. We urge all sides, difficult and complex though it may be, to enter into a constructive dialogue and to work together to build the pathway to peace for the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela,” Thompson added.

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CARICOM concerned at violence in Haiti

CARICOM concerned at violence in Haiti

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 13, CMC – The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has expressed concern at the violence in Haiti where opposition parties have been staging street demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

CARICOM chairman and St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister, Dr. Timothy Harris, said the regional integration grouping “is deeply concerned about the continuing violent protests in Haiti, which have resulted in the loss of life, property, destruction of infrastructure and caused grave distress.

CMC (File Photo)

“The Community calls for calm and a cessation of the violence, appealing to all involved to engage in constructive dialogue and to respect the Constitution, the rule of law and democratic processes so that issues can be resolved in a peaceful atmosphere and allow for the return to a state of normalcy,” he said in a brief statement.

On Monday, the leaders of the various political parties and groups, adopt a common position demanding the resignation of the President Moïse and his government.

“The country is not governed, said opposition legislator, Senator Youri Latortue, adding it is not about the respect or not of the mandate of Jovenel Moïse.

“The observation is that the country is not governed. We cannot let the country go adrift with an incompetent person at its head,” he added.

Earlier this week, several Western countries condemned the “unacceptable acts of violence” in Haiti and called on all stakeholders, including Haitian leaders “to engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue in order to identify and implement realistic and lasting solutions, political and economic.

Opposition political parties have been staging street demonstrations in support of their calls for President Moise to step down, after accusing him of not investigating allegations of corruption in the previous government over PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. They are also demanding fresh elections and jobs.

But Moise has dismissed the calls for him to resign.

Over the past few days, demonstrators have taken to the streets burning tyres and sporadic gunshots were heard forcing the closure of many businesses. Police also clashed with protesters near the airport and used tear gas to regain control of the situation. At least four people have been killed and police Wednesday reported that they were investigating reports that several prisoners had escaped.

Earlier this month, the President of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSC/CA), Pierre Volmar Demesyeux, presented a copy of the report on the management of projects financed by the PetroCaribe funds to the Speaker of the Senate Carl Murat Cantave.

Cantave has since presented the report to Senator Youri Latortue, the President of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

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Jamaica records near 30 per cent decline in murders so far this year

Jamaica records near 30 per cent decline in murders so far this year

by staff writer 

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 4, CMC – Jamaica has recorded a 29.7 per cent reduction in murders during the first five weeks of this year, according to figures released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

It said that there were 109 murders between January 1 and February 2 as compared with 155 for the same period last year.

JCF also reported that a decline in other categories of major crimes during the same period this year, with the number of shootings totalling 112, a 17 per cent reduction when compared with last year.

The police said that rapes declined significantly from 57 last year to 27 this year, while the number of aggravated assaults were reduced from 32 last year to 20 this year.

The figures show that there was a 15.3 per cent reduction in robberies during the first five weeks of this year, while the number of break-ins and larceny declined by 29.6 per cent and 5.3 per cent, respectively.

The overall reduction in murders is reflected in the statistics for all police divisions across the island, excepting Portland and Manchester. In Portland, two persons have been killed so far this year, compared with one during the same period last year.

For Manchester, five persons have been murdered so far this year as compared with three last year.

In 2018, more than 1, 200 people were killed in Jamaica.

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Teenager commits suicide after mother takes away cell phone

Teenager commits suicide after mother takes away cell phone

by staff writer 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 4, CMC – A 16-year-old girl is reported to have committed suicide after her mother took away her mobile phone after finding out that she had been posting revealing photographs on social media, the Trinidad Express newspaper reported Monday.

It said that the incident occurred on Saturday when the teenager drank a poisonous statement at her home in Wallerfield in East Trinidad.

The paper reported that a container with “a green liquid” was found in the bedroom.

The mother told police that she had taken away her daughter’s cellphone after relatives discovered she had been posting revealing photographs on social media.

The child was rushed to the Arima Health Facility, where she was pronounced dead

 

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DSC_1530a

Bright openings for 2019

Reporting from the middle of January, in his New Year Message, the Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo announced a list of ‘Breakthroughs’, many of which were to be happening even as he spoke.

Minister Lewis with consultants and related MCWL staff after a press briefing

 But a question loomed. Is this really happening?

 TMR has set about keeping track of the “breakthroughs” pondering whether they are leading up to an economy transforming “breakout” that has shattered the Montserrat resistance that has kept it back from April 1996, when Sir Nicholas Bonsor brought the message from the UKG (Her Majesty’s UK Government) that they are satisfied that Montserrat can go on but in the north of the Island.

The Premier had spoken to a list which included, for one, can be seen the Carr’s Bay bridge with wait in line at the temporary traffic lights. Public Works had been waiting for the concrete to gain strength as it hardens through chemical reactions.

Carrs Bay Bridge

 
Bridge nears completion – workers report suspect on its width

Reporting now up to date, the skepticism about what might be wrong with the bridge has been borne out, when the suggestion that the bridge was not wide enough going into the future. It has been reported that two trucks could not safely cross on the bridge, observed from a test conducted last week to the dismay of workers on the bridge.

It is noted now as we lamented at TMR earlier and continuing, that the dismissal of the Head of the Project Management Office (PMO) Carl Gomersall is being felt in any delay with any development.

If things were a little further along, by Carr’s Bay corner a few days into the new year, one would have seen two tractor-trailers in a convoy, coming from the Port and going up the Davy hill. One of the loads was so tall they had to lift electrical cables as it passed.

Tunnel blockage

 
Transported Cab for new air traffic tower stuck under runway tunnel

Then, when they got to the tunnel under the runway at Geralds, it got stuck, delaying traffic and passengers rushing to check-in no later than 4.00 p.m. for their 5.30 flight to Antigua and onwards. If you look at the tunnel’s roof, you can see the scrape mark. Traffic was blocked until it was noted that it was possible to pass the trailer with the air traffic cargo. The wait then as they soon figured to let air out of the tires to get things going again. The mysterious “cab” for the new air traffic control tower is there, near the terminal building, covered in white protective material.

Following up is the next question is, when will construction and upgrading begin? When will we get new lighting, etc., and when will the airport be open for night flights that widen tourism opportunities as well as allow for medical evacuations by night?

The road to Cudjoe Head and Brades from St. John’s thru Barzeys

 
Realigned corner at Barzey’s ghaut and bridge still under construction

 Down in Barzeys, the new 20-foot wide road and bridge etc. are indeed in place. This provides a second access road between St Johns and Salt Spring, Cudjoe Head, and Brades, which improves resiliency in case the Brades main road is blocked.

Fibre optic preparations continue
On the first major corner down the Brades main road, there are now continuing signs with the trench for terrestrial fibre optic cable has moved ahead with traffic obstacles now moved off the road.

Now, Montserrat is another step closer to be reconnected to the Caribbean’s subsea fibre optic network. (See related story – release: GoM Issues RFP for the Montserrat Submarine Fibre Optic Cable Project Pg 14

 
a diagram of undersea-internet-cables-Ccaribbean

The feeling is that Montserrat since ‘yesterday’, needs inland fibre optic cables to make full use of the subsea fibre optic cables that assuredly had been agreed and funded.

 High bandwidth digital access up to at least 10 million bits per second will open up many opportunities for new industries and jobs in the digital sector. Of course, those who know are already asking and reminding; what are our educators doing to equip our children and youth for this dynamic digital sector of the global economy?

Solar energy – visible progress

 
workers lay panels – first day of installation

Going down the hill and passing by the recently opened Agriculture building and the MCWL building, now visible on the entire roof where MonTobacco resides, as well as the roof of the new house for MUL new electricity plant, are Solar photovoltaic panels.

 In a press conference on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, TMR and other media learned that panels were being installed Public Works Workshop’s roof and on MUL’s roof for the newly opened power Plant. These are the panels for the 250 kW – “kiloWatt,” that is 250,000 Watt – first phase solar energy powered power plant that must be completed by March to meet an EDF 10 deadline.  250 kW is about 10% of the island’s peak electrical load.

In the press conference on MCWL officials and consultants suggested this phase may provide about 3% of our overall annual electrical energy requirements. It was also suggested that the “levelised cost” of electricity from the first phase plant will be about US$ 0.05 – 0.06 per unit of energy, the kiloWatt-hour, kWh.

What the island pays for is kWh, and currently, MUL has to pay up to EC$ 1 million per month for the fuel used to provide that energy. This cost is what appears in our bills as a fuel surcharge.  It was also clarified that thanks to EDF 10 grant funding from the EU which covers capital costs, the effective cost to us is US$ 0.025 per kWh.

Over the next several months the second phase of 750 kW is to follow and it will have battery storage.  It is to be funded through EDF 11 funding which must be spent by the end of 2020. The use of battery storage will help to cushion fluctuations in PV electricity supply due to clouds passing over etc., and depending on funding may help to provide additional energy after sunset of up to ½ hour to 2 hours. The 1 MW – mega Watt, 1,000,00 Watts – of PV capacity may provide up to 10% of our overall electrical energy consumption. The intermittency of many renewable energy sources is a reason why many engineers in the Caribbean region are concerned about power grid system stability once RE is 15 – 20% of the grid’s power plant base.

The second phase, 750 kW solar PV plant is to be located at a different site, and the PV electrical power will give emergency backup for essential service facilities so that they will be kept going in event of an island-wide blackout. Informed speculation, therefore, suggests that it will be located near the hospital, airport and emergency department, with ZJB Radio Station being down the road in Davy Hill. The airport is thus a likely site.

This plant will improve the resiliency of our electrical supply, especially for essential services.

Geothermal

However, during the press conference, officials indicated that onward developments with geothermal energy will be announced fairly soon. It is now assumed that it is geothermal energy that will be able to replace the bulk of fossil fuel use to provide electrical energy. As geothermal potential has been suggested to be up to 100 MW, this will also be the source that can support considerable economic growth and especially the growth of the digital and tourism sectors. The brief optimism is that Government of Montserrat (GoM) and the UK, are getting ready to take every step to expedite the delayed, or paused development of geothermal energy.

ZJB Radio

Although there has been no formal announcement it is not difficult to note the change in sounds when listening to ZJB radio. By now as we wait for the announcement, the sounds indicate that the ZJB building is occupied and staff having to move in are functioning in continuous broadcasting quite seamlessly it would appear. Interruptions will now be in the past as their new generator arrived and contractors were seen at work, installing it.

FAM visit for budget talks

 
l-r: Hon. F.S., Hon. Premier, DFID team

On Monday, January 14, Government hosted a joint DfID, joined by Foreign Commonwealth Office, forming the UK delegation, holding the opening ceremony for the annual Financial Aid Mission (FAM) talks. Last year, the theme seemed to have been points of conflict. This year, Premier Romeo, HE Governor Pearce and the DfID spokesman sang off the same hymn-sheet. Yes, we need capital investments and a programme of £30+ million is on the table for the next five years.

Governor Pearce discussed how the various UK and EU aid projects add up to £60 – 70 million, as Premier Romeo continues to press for a social housing initiative. The hospital project is on the table. Roads and other civil works continue to be needed.

On the recurrent side, it seems that the UK target is 60% (as usual now) support and doubtless intense debates continue between GoM officials and the UK, line item by line item. The hint is for a hope that as the economy takes off, gradually we will shoulder more and more of the costs to provide the services we rely on day to day: health care, education, relief to the vulnerable, policing, fire and rescue, prison, courts, law, legislature, cabinet, post office, agriculture, environment, finance, law, customs, immigration and so much more.

Little Bay port and breakwater

Back at the MCWL building’s conference room, on Tuesday, January 15, the media was introduced to a preliminary design for the breakwater and berthing project for the seaport. Winners of the project, Stantec consultants of Canada and Barbados were present (led by Harold Westermann who recalled working on the Plymouth Jetty in the early 1990s) and presented the proposal.

Immediately, initial stakeholder consultations were launched, and the environment and social impact analysis got underway. A design is to follow, a permanent GoM project manager is to be appointed, a consultant serving as the coordinator is to also be appointed and once technical design work is completed construction is to begin. The timeline for construction suggests the fourth quarter of this year, to be completed by about the end of 2020.

The seaport and airport developments, as well as fibre optic cables, will go a long way towards breaking the access constraints that contribute to high costs.

There will be more detail of the press conferences and ensuing discussions in due course.

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Hands holding smartphones

Smartphones in school: Ban, restrict or allow?

BBC News

Hands holding smartphones

Love them or hate them, smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. But should they be left outside the classroom?

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards in England, told the BBC he believes schools should ban their pupils from bringing in smartphones.

Opinions are certainly divided, with many people saying that pupils should be taught how to use their phones responsibly.

Preparation for life after school

Peter Freeth, whose daughters are aged 13 and 18 years old, says schools should do more to integrate phones into the learning experience.

Peter Freeth with his two daughters
Peter Freeth, here with his daughters, says “It’s too late to take phones off kids so get them using them for something valuable”

“Schools expect children to do their homework on computers. They need to use apps in the classroom as part of the process, to watch videos, stream content, log attendance and participate in study groups. Basically, all the things that smart businesses do.”

“Banning phones is based on an old idea that students should sit quietly in front of the teachers. There shouldn’t be a disconnect. In the work place we’re adapting the learning process to the learner. The idea of getting rid of smartphones is about conformity.”

A fantastic power in their hands

Astrid Natley

Astrid Natley says there’s a hypocritical divide where adults “choose to reject the reality of the 2019 world and how so many people function and communicate”

Astrid Natley, an English teacher at a secondary girls grammar school in Lincolnshire, incorporates phones into her classroom.

“My school does not have money for classroom tablets and technology.”

“When students use their phones for research, they learn that they have a fantastic power in their hands. We can give the student the ability to see how education can be accessed at home without it feeling like a despised departure from their own world.”

“For reading difficulties, font size can be increased on their phones; for recording their work, photos can be taken, and I also use group quizzes to engage the students.”

“If we stop children using phones, then we’re rejecting something they care about. Phones are important for them and that’s not going to change.”

You might also like:

‘No place in a child’s life’

Meanwhile, Yvonne Lockhart, a registered nurse who has worked for community education supports a complete ban.

“I am banned from mobile phone usage at work, and my phone must be ‘removed’ from my person or handed in. If I am caught with it in my pocket, I will be subject to a disciplinary procedure which will impact on my career.”

“We need to teach children how to behave like the professionals they are striving to become. Ban the phones, they have no place in a child’s life.”

Kids are socialising

On Facebook, Tara Blount reveals her children’s school has implemented a ban and are seeing the benefits. Image copyright .

Richard, a secondary school English teacher in the independent sector, thinks there should be a clear separation between school and home.

“We wouldn’t expect children, left to their own devices all day with no formal schooling, to voluntarily pick up text books at home and learn, so it is inherent in the system that they do things differently in the two environments.”

“Children are getting more than enough screen time and access to this technology in their lives without the need to bring it into the classroom. The internet is too easy and too unreliable a research tool, so let’s leave phones and laptops at home, and show them a different world in their lessons – one of books and pens.”

Stop bullying

Assistant head teacher Alison Gill, from Shropshire, agrees an all-out ban is necessary so staff can “do what they’re trained to do and not take on the role of the police or social services.”

“We have a computer suite, where students can use the internet, under supervision. We’ve no way of tracking what they’re looking at on their phones, iPads or smart watches.”

“We have already had a case of harassment whilst a student was off school. Allowing students mobile technology into school adds another layer of issues for teaching staff to deal with and also leads to further confrontations inside and outside of the classroom.”

Safety is key

Many people accept that mobile phones are a very useful way of keeping in touch with children and making sure they travel safely to and from school. Parents with children who have medical conditions say a smartphone is vital to keep tabs on their health.

Insulin pen being administered
Kay Bellwood’s son’s mobile phone monitors his glucose levels

Kay Bellwood’s 11-year-old son has Type 1 diabetes and relies on his phone to to tell him his blood glucose levels.

“His phone has tracking, so if his blood glucose level is too low he can be found if he’s unable to walk or talk. He can send an SOS.”

“It is literally life saving medical technology. A ban would be direct discrimination under the equality act.”

Written by Sherie Ryder, UGC and Social News

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Police investigating kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

Police investigating kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelans

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 30, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) Wednesday confirmed that it is investigating the kidnapping of six fishermen allegedly by Venezuelan nationals but said it would not comment on whether or not a US$200,000 ransom had been demanded.

Police Commissioner, Gary Griffith, speaking on a radio programme here, said that the situation has been complicated by the fact that the Trinidad and Tobago nationals are believed to be held in the South American country.

“We at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are doing all that is required. It is a very difficult situation. Initially reports are that they (those kidnapped) were actually outside of our waters when it is they were actually held by these individuals.

“It does not take away the fact that these are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and there is a concern. It puts us in a  very difficult position to do much more than we are doing because of the situation where they are not in Trinidad and Tobago waters., Griffith said, adding “I am not saying our hands are tied, there’s a lot that we are doing from our end.

“Hopefully there will be something positive by the end of this,” he added.

Media reports here said that the kidnappers have given the relatives until Friday to pay the ransom or face the prospect of the hands of those detained being chopped off.

A photograph of the six men, identified as Jude Jaikaran,16; brothers Jason, 38, and Jerry O’Brian, 36; Ricky Rambharose, 35; Brandon Arjoon, 29; and Linton Manohar, 36, has been circulating on social media showing them sitting on the floor while being surrounded by men pointing machine-guns at them. The photo was sent to relatives on Monday.

In an audio clip that is also being circulated on social media, the families are warned that the kidnappers intend to make good on their demands.

Griffith was asked to confirm whether a ransom had been demanded.

I am sorry but I will not be able to make any revelations pertaining to this while the investigations are still ongoing,” he told radio listeners.

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Acting CJ Roxanane George-Wiltshire

Guyana court rules motion of no confidence against government, valid

Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire

CNS – Feb 1, 2019 –Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire, Thursday ruled that the motion of no confidence passed in the National Assembly on December 21 last year that brought down the David Granger led coalition government is valid, paving the way for fresh regional and general elections to be held later this year.

Under the Guyana Constitution elections must be held within 90 days of the motion of no confidence being passed.

Attorney General Basil Williams has since given notice that he intends to appeal the ruling. In a near four-hour ruling,

Justice George-Wiltshire also said that anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 of the Guyana Constitution “should not and could not be” a member of the Guyana Parliament.

Justice George-Wiltshire was delivering her ruling in the three matters regarding the validity of the successful opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) motion of no confidence.

She had earlier this month heard the arguments in the cases “Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly; Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.

The matters arose after the then government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud, who holds both Guyana and Canadian citizenship voted with the PPP in the 65-member National Assembly where the coalition government had previously enjoyed a slender one seat majority.

Williams had said there was a miscalculation of the majority of all elected members as required under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution for the government to be defeated on a vote of no confidence.

He had also asked the court to determine whether Resolution 101 is constitutional and effective and passed in accordance Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, arguing that the failure to obtain 34 or more votes breached article 106 (6) of the Constitution and was unlawful and the certification by the speaker by issuing Resolution 101 could not be conclusive.” But in her ruling in which she made the differentiation between a “simple” and “absolute” majority, the Acting Chief Justice said if all 65 members voted, the majority is 33.

“Therefore, in the case for the requirement for a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly, at least 33 votes ought to be obtained to meet that requirement. If 55 members are present, a majority of all members of the National assembly will still be 33. If only 45 members are present, a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33 and even if 23 members are present, the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33.”

She said as a result “the no confidence motion is carried, the requisite majority is obtained by a vote of 33 to 32. The President and the Ministers can’t therefore remain in government beyond the three months within which elections are required to be held in accordance with Article 106 of Article Seven unless that time is enlarged by the National Assembly in accordance with the requirements of said Article 106…”

Justice George-Wiltshire as a result the other questions raised by the applicants “are rendered moot” adding “this court cannot set aside or defy a ruling that was validly made …in (keeping with provisions) of Article 106…of the Constitution, nor can it stay in force a resolution validly declared in accordance with the same provisions of the Constitution”,.

She said while a court can intervene “this can only be done if the National Assembly act unconstitutionally.

“This is not the case here. So therefore, the ruling of the Speaker that the no confidence motion debated in the National Assembly on the 21 December 2018 was carried by a vote of the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is thus lawful and valid being in accordance with the requirements of the …Constitution”.

Earlier, the acting Chief Justice ruled that “anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 and therefore falls into this category…should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament” and as such the declaration sought in terms of paragraph one and two of the request for leave are granted.

“Therefore I hold and therefore declare that the second respondent is not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly by virtue of his own act and acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power to wit, the sovereign state of Canada in contravention of …of the Constitution of Guyana,” she ruled.

The Acting Chief Justice said “it is also declared the second respondent was on the seventh of April 2015 disqualified from being nominated as a member for the National Assembly of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana”.

On the issue of dual citizenship, the Acting Chief Justice said that the provisions in the Constitution seek to preserve for membership of the National Assembly “persons who only hold Guyanese citizenship and who would not have voluntarily taken an oath of allegiance to another country.

“While some may say that this does not permit the fullest participation of diaspora Guyanese in the political leadership of Guyana, this is not for this court to pronounce on. The Constitution is clear,,” she said, adding “as until it is amended to provide otherwise, the Constitutional provision must be adhered to. “Any change to reflect a different view may be undertaken by way of constitutional amendment if the public and their parliamentary representatives so inclined”.

The government had also argued as to whether section 5 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2000 (No 17/2000) is constitutional and not inconsistent with article 70 of the Constitution.

The Attorney General had said that the framers of the Constitution in article 70 (3), having guaranteed an elected government, a five years term of office which five years term is protected by entrenchment by the requirement of 2/3 of all the elected members of the National Assembly voting to reduce that 5 years, could not at the same time have intended that a future Parliament were to be permitted to abridge or curtail the enjoyment of that five years, by introducing into the Constitution via a provision that is not entrenched at all a process called a ‘vote of confidence.”

But in her ruling the judge disagreed with the argument. The coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), came to office in 2015.

| Caribbean News Service

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