Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar –
THE Opposition UNC hailed Thursday’s Privy Council decision against the Government’s extension of the term of incumbent local government representatives by a year without going to the electorate.
In a statement, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar praised UNC activist Ravi Balgobin-Maharaj for challenging the extension in the local courts and all the way to the Privy Council.
She said the UNC now “calls on the Prime Minister, on behalf of the electorate, to immediately fix the date for local government elections and to ensure that such elections are held lawfully and freely.”
Balgobin-Maharaj said, “I was disappointed that I lost this matter in the High Court and Court of Appeal but am happy that the Privy Council has given judgment in my favour.”
In a statement, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath credited Persad-Bissessar for the Privy Council’s ruling.
He described the ruling as a “fatal blow to the PNM in their thirst to subvert and compromise our democracy for political expediency.”
The UNC’s Oropouche East constituency executive also praised Persad-Bissessar for the judgement.
In a statement, its chairman Raymond Surujbally said, ‘We are ready to with our candidates and secure victory at the polls.”
While the Privy Council ruled against the Government’s extension of the term of incumbent local government representatives by one year, it rejected Balgobin-Maharaj’s arguments that the Constitution had been breached either by denying people’s democratic participation in local government elections or by extending the incumbent representatives’ terms by one year.
These positions were stated in sections 19 and 20 of the judgement.
Section 19 said, “There is no constitutional provision for any particular form of local government nor any constitutional right to participate in elections for local government assemblies, and that accordingly, the appellant’s constitutional challenge must fail.”
Section 20 said, “The term for which representatives have been elected is important but an increase by one year in the term of incumbent Councillors and Aldermen does not of itself breach any provision of the Constitution.