CCJ no-confidence cases…says Govt dodging of elections raises questions about its self-confidenceEven as the coalition Government fights for its survival in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), a Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)-based political analyst has opined that the Caribbean at large on a daily basis questions the reason Government even went to court in the first place.Senior Lecturer at UWI, Dr Bishnu RagoonathThis is according to Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of West Indies at its St Augustine campus in Trinidad. Dr Ragoonath was at the time making an appearance on a Globespan24x7 Town Hall panel discussion.According to Dr Ragoonath, observers of the case in the Caribbean have been questioning the reasoning behind the Guyana Government going to the courts, ever since they first approached the High Court.“For all intents and purposes, there was the feeling that ever since the matter went to the High Court, ‘why is this matter going to the High Court?’ Because as far as most of us were concerned, within the context of all our laws in the Caribbean, once you have faced a no-confidence vote and you have lost, it is anticipated that the Government will hand over or call elections within three months,” he said.“So it is something that most of us, as political scientists and lay people in the Caribbean, would have (asked) why is Guyana going down this route. Why are they not going and call elections when they should? And why is the Government now challenging this thing when initially they accepted it?”Indeed, on the very night of the no-confidence vote, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had accepted that Government must follow the Constitution and call elections in three months, in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.Article 106 (6) and (7) of the Constitution states, respectively: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”Three of the CCJ Judges during the hearingAnd “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”According to Dr Ragoonath, the Government’s about-turn has caused many in the Caribbean to question whether the Government is afraid of going to the polls and whether this fear stems from a lack of confidence in itself and its record.“I think the eyes of the Caribbean looking at Guyana believe that if the Guyana Government felt so confident in themselves, they should have gone back to the polls and let the people give them another mandate to take the Government forward for the next five years. But there is that concern, that maybe they’re not as confident as they should be.”The courtroomBut Dr Ragoonath noted that the big question was how far Government would be willing to go, if the court should return a ruling unfavourable to it. He noted that the way the case has been progressing and the way the CCJ Judges have reacted to the State lawyers’ submissions in the two days the cases were heard is very telling.“While we cannot say what will be the verdict in this matter, the Judges did in fact ask some very telling questions, to the legal representatives of both the Government and the Opposition. For instance, they kept on asking the question of why did the courts in Guyana take so long knowing full well that there was a 90-day limit beyond the no-confidence motion, that the elections were to be held and the (Cabinet) should have resigned.”“The fact that the Appeal Court in Guyana went beyond the three-month deadline to give their ruling, thus pushing the whole issue back. The issue being raised about whether or not if a verdict does go in favour of the Opposition against the Government, how soon can an election be held in Guyana,” the scholar said.He made it clear that he was not surprised by the questions the Judges put to the Attorneys. According to Dr Ragoonath, having sat and observed events in Guyana and how they were playing out, it was merely a matter of determining the next step forward.He also noted the fact that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has given the Government a November earliest date in which elections can be held. This is a date well outside the timeframe the Constitution of Guyana sets for holding elections.“I think if we are to follow the questions, I think there were serious concerns that the CCJ would have had about how the Government but also the institutions acted… the Elections Commission and the Court of Appeal in how they operated in this matter,” he said.The three no-confidence motion cases deal with Christopher Ram v the Attorney General of Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo v the Attorney General of Guyana, Dr Barton Scotland and Joseph Harmon; and Charrandas Persaud v Compton Herbert Reid, Dr Barton Scotland, Bharrat Jagdeo and Joseph Harmon; the last of which deals with Persaud’s eligibility to vote in the House. The oral arguments concluded on Friday, with the whole nation awaiting a ruling.
Another suicide bomber detonated a dump truck containing a 200-gallon chlorine tank rigged with explosives at 7:13 p.m. three miles south of Fallujah in the Albu Issa tribal region, the military said. U.S. forces found about 250 local civilians, including seven children, suffering from symptoms related to chlorine exposure, according to the statement. Police said the bomb targeted the reception center of a tribal sheik who has denounced al-Qaida. Four other bombings have released chlorine gas since Jan. 28, when a suicide bomber driving a dump truck filled with explosives and a chlorine tank struck a quick-reaction force and Iraqi police in Ramadi, killing 16 people. The U.S. military has warned that insurgents are adopting new tactics in a campaign to spread panic. The most recent such attack occurred Feb. 21 in Baghdad, killing five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals, a day after a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken near Taji, 12 miles north of the capital. A previously unannounced suicide car bombing in Ramadi involving chlorine killed two Iraqi security officers and wounded 16 other people, including 13 civilians, on Feb. 19, the military said Saturday. The military said last month that U.S. troops found a car bomb factory near Fallujah with about 65 propane tanks and ordinary chemicals it believed the insurgents were going to try to mix with explosives. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief U.S. military spokesman, called it a “crude attempt to raise the terror level.” Chlorine, which irritates the respiratory system, eyes and skin at low exposure and can cause death in heavier concentrations, is easily accessible. It is used for water purification plants, bleaches and disinfectants. The primary effect of the chlorine attacks has been to spread panic. Although chlorine gas can be fatal, the heat from the explosions can render the gas nontoxic. Victims in the recent chlorine blasts died from the explosions, not effects of the gas. Friday’s strikes underscore the increasingly violent struggle for control of Anbar – a center for anti-U.S. guerrillas since the uprising in Fallujah in 2004 that galvanized the insurgency. In the past year, some major Sunni tribes have broken with the al-Qaida-linked insurgents – a move that has led to a new sense of optimism among U.S. officials in Anbar. Al-Maliki on Tuesday made his first trip to Anbar province, meeting with influential clan chiefs whom the U.S. and the Iraqi government are cultivating. He expressed optimism the violence could be stopped and promised the area would not be forgotten as U.S. and Iraqi forces focus on a security sweep to stop the sectarian violence in Baghdad. Bombings and shootings Saturday targeted police patrols elsewhere in Iraq, killing five policemen, including two who died after a suicide car bomber struck the checkpoint they were manning near a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad. At least 34 other Iraqis were killed or found dead in attacks throughout the country, including five civilians shot to death in separate attacks in Diyala province northeast of the capital. Officials also said the director of the Sunni Endowment for mosques in Diyala, Fouad Mahmoud Attaya, was abducted earlier this past week by gunmen in Baqouba and an investigation was under way. A U.S. soldier was shot to death in fighting in the provincial capital of Baqouba, the military said. On Friday, a roadside bomb killed a soldier and wounded three others on a foot patrol south of Baghdad, the military said. Gunmen abducted a radio newscaster and his driver in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad, the station’s director said. Karim Manhal, a newscaster with Radio Dijla, and his driver were seized by four masked men in the Jami’a neighborhood near the station’s headquarters, director Karim Yousif said. A female staffer who was with them in the car was released, he said. Radio Dijla, named after the Arabic name for the Tigris River, was created in 2004 as Iraq’s first independent talk radio station. Meantime, Australian Prime Minister John Howard declined to commit to a timeline for withdrawing the country’s 1,400 troops from Iraq. “Great progress has been achieved, but there is still work to be done,” Howard said during a news conference with al-Maliki. “As you know, I don’t set speculative dates. There is nothing to be achieved by that.” Howard, a staunch U.S. ally, arrived in Baghdad after his plane was forced to make an emergency landing in southeastern Iraq because it filled with smoke, according to the Australian Associated Press. No one was injured. On Saturday, protesters angry about U.S. policy in Iraq marched by the thousands in Washington, D.C., and in smaller numbers in other U.S. cities and overseas. Tuesday marks the four-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion. “Too many people have died and it doesn’t solve anything,” said Ann Bonner, who drove to Washington through snow with her family from Ohio. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD – Three suicide bombers driving trucks rigged with tanks of toxic chlorine gas struck targets in heavily Sunni Anbar province, including the office of a Sunni tribal leader opposed to al-Qaida. The attacks killed at least two people and sickened 350 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. military personnel, the U.S. military said Saturday. A power struggle is mounting between insurgents and the growing number of Sunnis who oppose them in Anbar, the center of the Sunni insurgency, which stretches from Baghdad to the borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The Anbar assaults came three days after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, traveled there to reach out to Sunni clan chiefs in a bid to undermine tribal support for the insurgency. The violence started about 4:11 p.m. Friday when a driver detonated explosives in a pickup truck carrying chlorine at a checkpoint northeast of the provincial capital of Ramadi, wounding one U.S. service member and one Iraqi civilian, the military said in a statement. Two hours later a dump truck exploded in Amiriyah, south of Fallujah, killing two policemen and leaving as many as 100 residents with symptoms of chlorine exposure ranging from minor skin and lung irritations to vomiting, the military said. Iraqi authorities said at least six people were killed and dozens wounded when the truck blew up in a line of cars waiting at a checkpoint. The U.S. did not confirm the Iraqi report. Ahmed Kuhdier, a 32-year-old taxi driver, said the blast sent up a plume of white smoke that turned black and blue. “Minutes later, we started to smell nasty smells. I saw people coming from the explosion site and they were coughing and having trouble breathing,” he said.
0Shares0000Wanted man – Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka © AFP / Adrian DENNISLONDON, United Kingdom, Jan 1 – Mikel Arteta hopes Granit Xhaka will stay with Arsenal as the new manager looks to revive the Gunners’ fortunes.Swiss midfielder Xhaka was ruled out of Sunday’s 2-1 loss at home to Chelsea with illness amid speculation he could leave the Emirates Stadium during the January transfer window. Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in October by former manager Unai Emery following the player’s angry reaction to being booed by Gunners fans.He has since been linked with a move to Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga but Arteta, asked if he wanted the 27-year-old Xhaka to leave north London club Arsenal, replied: “I hope not. He played at Bournemouth, he played really well, he was very committed, he played a really good game.“After the game he started to feel ill. He had a temperature and he wasn’t feeling good. The last two days he was in bed. That’s why he hasn’t been selected.”Arsenal let slip a winning position in the closing stages against Chelsea after a goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had them leading into the last 10 minutes.But a mistake by goalkeeper Bernd Leno, flapping at a cross, gave Jorginho the chance to equalise into an empty net before Tammy Abraham scored a late winner.Arteta said it was the job of the whole squad to boost Leno’s morale.“He will be down. When an error costs the team points, it’s harder,” he explained. “We have to lift him.“He’s done a really good job since he joined this football club and we have to respect that.“We just need to bring the confidence back in and that’s it.”Arsenal could be without Calum Chambers for the New Year’s Day visit of Manchester United after the centre-back suffered a knee injury in the defeat by Chelsea.The Gunners, for so long one of the Premier League’s leading clubs, are currently in 12th place, just six points above the relegation zone.0Shares0000(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)