In the context of Guyana, last Friday’s decision by the Court of Appeal was not a surprise to me. The government had its back on the constitutional ropes and the majority judges accepted some extremely strange mathematics – what some are now referring to as ‘legal mathematics’ – and found in its favour. Perhaps remembering what occurred under his regime, where the court also split in his favour during his controversial bid for a third presidential term, Leader of the Opposition Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, although accepting the court’s decision, saw nothing wrong with this decision not to return to parliament until the final decision comes from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)! Questionable as it is, last Friday’s decision merely returns us to the 2015 governance status quo: it did not attempt to go to the roots of our system of governance and thus does not come close to the decision given by former acting Chief Justice Ian Chang in 2014, which I referred to as ‘The most reactionary decision in our post independence history’ (SN: 05/02/2014).
Of course, the government is also still not totally out of the woods. Eager to accept the ‘legal mathematics’ of the Court of Appeal, it should be even more eager to accept the decision by both courts that dual citizenship is illegal and so re-enter the parliament with a list shorn of such persons.
But if past behaviour is anything to go by, it will not do so and will appeal that decision to the CCJ, and just as it was claiming that it was a legal government although no stay was accorded, it will seek to convince us that until the CCJ speaks the issue of dual citizenship has not been finalized and thus such of its members as are dual citizens can legally return to parliament…..