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End of the UNC regime

March 18, 2001
By Selwyn R. Cudjoe

WHEN the Panday/Maharaj axis maligned the Judiciary, thereby showing their open contempt for the juridical process, I remembered an observation Karl Marx made. He said: "If appearances were reality there would be no need for science. However, since appearances are not reality there is every need for science." Since science is a branch of knowledge that deals with a body of information in a systematic way, the scientific mind always looks beneath the surface (appearances) to find the "real" cause of behaviour.

Therefore, when Maharaj barked at Justice Archie and Panday snarled at the court's ability to remove him from office, the surface response of many listeners was: "Dem fellas really losing it. Dey really gone out of bounds." Such an evaluation may have been correct.

A deeper investigation suggests they see the writing on the wall and have taken the offensive. Their behaviour can be likened unto wounded animals cornered by the implications of their acts. Roy Joseph, a senior citizen, reminded me "when a mappepire get too strong, he does sting he own self".

When the UNC filed its constitutional motion, they believed it would tie up the courts all the way to the Privy Council, an action that would take years to conclude. Since possession is 90 per cent of the law, they knew that even if they lost eventually they would have won, an extension of their philosophy of making losers winners. As a result, UNC would have controlled the reigns of government for the next five years regardless of the legal outcome, hence the contemptuous turning up of their noses at the populace with the comment: "We nah leaving."

And they might have been correct in their assumptions and their assertion. However, they failed to realise that wisdom is a commodity that God, in his good graces, gave all of us. No one, not even Ramesh, possesses a monopoly of legal wisdom and juristic prowess. Whatever he may have thought of the Judiciary, the latter told him his strategy couldn't work and would not pay. They knew that the essence of law does not consist of verbal obfuscation ("The press misunderstood me") or bombastic bamboozlement ("I was only giving facts"). True law reflects a commitment to a set of conditions that "enable the members of a community to realise the basic values for themselves and to attain any other reasonable objectives they may have". Another name for this is "the common good".

Therefore, when intelligence came down that Justice Archie was likely to rule in a certain manner all pretences of civility broke loose. The Panday/Maharaj axis threw away their inhibitions and relied upon instincts. Not that they had any serious legal objections to Justice Archie's position—they could not—but they had to throw sand into the eyes of the public.

The game was up. If they felt they could have strung things out, because of the urgency of the matter, the CJ placed a deadline of April 24 on any legal manoeuvrings the axis may have had in mind. The Port had certainly outmanoeuvred the Plantation; brainpower had out-slicked brawn.

The Plantation realised that the game had ended. They understood that once the nominations of Gypsy and Chaitan were declared null and void, the Khans automatically became the representatives of their various constituencies, effective Nomination Day, November 20, 2000. In the immediate aftermath of the ruling, Patrick Manning automatically becomes the Prime Minister. In their scheming, the axis understood the full implications of section 76 (1) of the Constitution that affirms: "Where there is occasion for the appointment of a Prime Minister, the president shall appoint as Prime Minister (a) a member of the House of Representatives who is the leader in that House of the party which commands the support of the majority members of that House".

When the President swore in the leaders of the illegitimate government, he made it clear that "although the elective process is not yet complete, I appoint you Prime Minister." He meant that once the electoral process is complete, he would act as the completed process dictates. The misconception—again bandied about by the prince of legal and political wisdom—that the PNM must bring a motion of no confidence to unseat the PM is unfounded.

He continues to believe that he can fool all of the people most of the time.

More than anyone in the country, the President understands when and how a legal occasion arises. I am equally sure that Patrick Manning is walking around with the signatures of the 18 PNM members in his pocket.

Whether he forwards them to the President at zero point one second after the High Court rules or the President calls him at zero point two seconds after the High Court has spoken are niceties that the political climate will dictate. But fall, the UNC must, a point the Panday/Maharaj axis understands better than you or I.

The only question that remains is how the final scene will be played out? Is Panday likely to call elections before the court rules, thus preventing the PNM from assuming power, or will he concede and allow the PNM to come to power. My bet is that he will call elections to prevent PNM from coming to power. If the polls cannot be rigged, dead people cannot vote and electors cannot move from one constituency to another at will, how is the UNC to win?

I will not resume my countdown. Judicious circumspection demands that we allow the judicial process to play out to its inevitable conclusion. But then law isn't exactly politics even though there is a politics of law, something the Panday/Maharaj axis understands only too well. Snarls and barks reveal their smartman-ism, badjohn-ism and gutter-ism. It makes us realise that all the talk about their respect for law is only a smokescreen that hides their contempt for our democratic system.

Today we know in part, tomorrow their contemptuous behaviour shall be exposed to the sunshine of a new day.

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