Wednesday, November 23, 2011

PNC's injunction against ERC thrown out

Justice Dianna Insanally on Tuesday threw out an injunction filed against several officials of the Ethnic Relations Commission ( ERC) by People’s National Congress Reform leader Robert Corbin, saying that the case was baseless. The commission’s chairman, Bishop Juan Edghill, one of the persons the injunction had sought to block from performing their duties, resigned from the post, citing his decision to join the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic elections campaign. At a press briefing held at the ERC office, Queenstown on Tuesday, Edghill said: “ Today, I wanted to publicly announce that this afternoon Justice Dianna Insanally discharged the injunction that was brought against myself, Carvil Duncan, John Willems, barring us from performing our functions as chairman and members of the ERC.” Back in June, Corbin secured an injunction against the trio preventing them from taking any decision, making any recommendation, and issuing any direction on behalf of the constitutional body. Corbin was also granted an order to have the current commissioners and chairman of the ERC refund to the state all monies they collected after August 2007 when the life of the commission expired. Edghill said: “ The judge said clearly that Mr Corbin claimed that ERC was unconstitutional since 2007, you can’t wait four years after when an elections is approaching… interlocutory injunctions and ex parte applications are in matters of emergency, there was no emergency that you waited until May to file such an injunction, the conservatory orders that were granted ought not to be granted.” He added that he briefed the staff of the ERC, notifying them of the court’s ruling and his resignation from post as chairman, because of his public endorsement of the PPP/ C. “… we have a dilemma, yours truly is a candidate to the polls, and if I am going to be a candidate to the polls, while there is no rule anywhere that says I ought to resign; as chairman as ERC, I did not allow Dr Frank Anthony to sit and Cheryl Sampson to sit once they became candidates to the polls and MPs. The same rule that I thought it was in the best interest of the people of Guyana, the same rule will apply to Bishop Edghill, because the integrity of the commission must not be destroyed because of any personality.” He assured that he will not be “ interfering or making any decisions on behalf of the ERC during this period of the elections. The fact that we had a hiatus from May till now, you would know that there are administrative things that need to be settled, and there are administrative things that need to be done”. Edghill noted that all incomplete administrative issues will be dealt with be fore he excuses himself permanently from performing the functions of chairman of ERC. When asked the intent of the injunction, the ERC chairman stated that it is clear that the opposition political parties, more specifically the PNCR, did not want the ERC around for this year’s elections. “ The clear case was that the ERC was not to be in place for these elections”, he said, terming the situation “ unfortunate”. He added that the pattern which the opposition took was evident as anonymous letter writ ers, along with several political figures from the opposition, were making it known in one way or another. “ We knew there was a diabolical plot to ensure that the ERC was not in place… Corbin became the front person to get that end achieved.” Edghill said, noting the PNCR was successful in keeping the ERC at a standstill. ERC was still functioning He added that his endorsement does not permit him to continue as chairman though there is no rule preventing him from retaining his post. “ The issue here is that nothing can be changed five days before elections, what can the ERC do now?” he asked. “ This was a grand plot that was being revealed and the intent – you can twist it, turn it – it was the plan of the PNCR and those in opposition that wanted to perpetuate ... [ an] agenda to ensure that the ERC was not in place and the courts were being used as a way of tying it up.”

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