Following Government’s announcement that it would be recalling Ambassadors from overseas who it claims have overstayed their time, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has reminded that because of its illegal status, the Government has no authority to make such decisions.
Nandlall, when contacted, informed INews that the Government was supposed to act as a caretaker Government and announce a date for elections, up until September 19.
“It was a Caretaker Government from the time the No-Confidence Motion was passed, that is, from the 21st December 2018 to three months immediately succeeding that time, that is, on or about the 20th March 2019, when elections were to be held under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.”
“Then the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its consequential orders delivered on the 12th July 2019, in the No-Confidence Motion cases, indicated that that litigation placed the constitutional clock on pause, in relation to the three months within which elections shall be held consequent upon the passage of the No-Confidence Motion, as mandated by Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.”
Nandlall referred to the CCJ’s act of referring to a three months’ grace period for Government to hold elections as “judicial benevolence”, but made it clear that the three months’ period has elapsed.
“The first minute into the 19th September 2019, this Government became absolutely illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful. From that moment, it ceased to govern by virtue of constitutional authority.”
Nandlall noted that at some point in time, all these decisions that were made including the decision to recall the unnamed Ambassadors from their overseas missions, will have to be reviewed.
“This is a unit masquerading as a lawful Government and at some point in time, these decisions that are being made, contracts that are being awarded and monies that are being spent, will have to be reviewed, their legality or lack thereof examined and consequential legal actions taken,” he said.
The Ministry’s announcement that it would be recalling Ambassadors follows speculation on the reason for former Director General Audrey Jardine-Waddell’s removal from the post. The Ministry confirmed that indeed, Waddell has been removed and will be replaced by Charlene Phoenix as their first Permanent Secretary, with effect from December 2.
According to the Ministry, however, there are Ambassadors that have been serving for 20 years, when in fact their tenure is supposed to be 3 to 5 years. The Ministry claimed that this has impeded the work of younger, up and coming foreign service officers and that the reshuffling was part of “promoting greater efficiency”.
A cursory check on the current Ambassadors’ residence overseas revealed only a few Ambassadors with over a decade of service abroad. But the Foreign Affairs Ministry has not revealed the names of those Ambassadors who were targeted.
Questions have been raised as to whether there is more to the issue than the Ministry is letting on. For instance, there had been reports that Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Karen Cummings, was being undermined at the Ministry.
Those reports appeared shortly before word got out that Jardine-Waddell was being reassigned. However, it has also been alleged that the technical staff were being impeded from doing their job due to political interference.