The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has moved to the High Court to block the selection of a Mayor and Chairmen for five Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), after there were ties between the Councillors during the electing process.
PPP’s Commissioners attached to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday accused Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan of selecting five Chairmen and a Mayor for six Local Authority Areas (LAA) where there were equality of votes – a move the Commissioners say was outside the remit of the laws governing the selection of Mayors and NDC Chairmen.
On Wednesday, the Opposition Party filed six writs of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus at the High Court. The legal documents were filed by Attorney Anil Nandlall on behalf of the applicant, PPP Executive Secretary Zulficar Mustapha.
The matters were heard by Justice Diana Insanally the same day during which she granted a series of orders as requested in the affidavit with respect to the Minister’s inability to select a Mayor within the Mabaruma District and Chairmen for several NDCs.
The court orders seek to nullify the selection of Kervin Crawford as Chairman and Gail Thomas as Vice Chairman, of the Gibralter-Fyrish NDC; Audrey Thomas as Chairman of the Industry-Plaisance NDC; Peter Livingstone as Chairman and Royan Junior Thomas as Vice Chairman of the Malgre Tout-Meer Zorgen; Carol Nurse as Chairman and Wilbert Vhypius as Vice Chairman of the Woodlands-Bel Air; Gershon Clarke as Chairman of the Woodlands-Farm and the selection of Rupert Henry Smith as Mayor and Astrille Gamell as Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Mabaruma.
Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan
The Order or Rule Nisi of Certiorari granted by the Judge is directed to Minister Bulkhan, quashing his decision of the selections on the grounds that it is contrary to and in violation of Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01 and the Local Government Act Chapter 28:02. She said that the decision “is in excess of and without jurisdiction, made in bad faith, is unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, based upon irrelevant and in proper considerations, mala fide, malicious, vindictive, unlawful, ultravires, null, void and of no legal effect.”
Justice Insanally further ordered that the Councillors selected by the Minister be restrained from acting as or performing the functions of Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Mayor of their respective NDCs and municipality on the grounds that to do so, would be contrary to and in violation of municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01 and the Local Government Act Chapter 28:02, is unlawful, unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, in excess and without jurisdiction, oppressive, malicious, illegal and ultra vires.
The court also quashed the decision of the NDCs in electing Vice Chairmen and of the Town Councils in selecting any or all committees, citing the above mentioned grounds. The Judge further ordered that the Overseers of the NDCs and the acting Town Clerk of Mabaruma appoint a day for the election of Chairmen and Mayors from among such candidates by the voters whose names appear on the Register of Voters for the local authority area of the respective NDCs and municipality.
The Minister as well as the appointees were all called upon by the court to show cause why the Order or Rule Nisi of Certiorari should not be made absolute. The matter has been adjourned to April 20, when it will be called before Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.
On the other hand, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan on Wednesday maintained that he broke no laws as claimed by the PPP Commissioners. He was at the time speaking to reporters following the swearing in ceremony of the nine Mayors and Deputy Mayors by President David Granger.
The Minister pointed out that he is baffled about the PPP’s interpretation of the laws, noting that the legislation allows that for the intervention of the subject Minister when there is a tie in electing a mayor or NDC Chairman following two election meetings.
Nevertheless, Bulkan express confidence that his Administration is ready to defend his decisions during the court proceedings and will even get a favourable outcome.