This afternoon Ravi Balgobin, who has made a career out of challenging the Government’s policies in court, once again heads to the Hall of Justice.
Led by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, the United National Congress activist has filed for leave for judicial review into the postponement of the Local Government Election (LGE).
In a statement to the media, Mr Balgobin said he hopes his challenge will force the Government to hold the LGE “at the appropriate time.”
He believes the PNM had no right, one month away from the end of their constitutionally mandated term, to proclaim the amendment to the Municipal Corporations Act, and to extend the current term of local government councillors and aldermen by one year.
While the public was preparing for a late 2022 or early 2023 election, by law, the poll can now be held as late as March 2024.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley remains the only person who can call an election, so only he can say if there is any plan to call one in the coming months.
This newspaper’s editorial, exactly two weeks ago, called on Mr Rowley to put all fears to rest that the democratic process was not being delayed or, at the very least, face the nation to explain why.
As fate would have it, that was the very day the Office of the Prime Minister announced that Dr Rowley had tested positive for COVID-19 a third time, removing him from the public’s eye for one week.
Since then, the Prime Minister has not exactly been silent. He has taken to Facebook to remind the public about the Cambridge Analytica scandal; railed against the state of West Indies cricket; and scolded Dr Tim Gopeesingh about the benefits of walking on the golf course as opposed to “raising a glass of vodka or white rum.”
Without seeing the irony of his actions, Dr Rowley also took time this week to put his sole challenger for the leadership of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Karen Nunez-Tesheira, on notice that he has bought a new a shirt for court, while proclaiming that he stands ready to defend the PNM’s right to hold its internal election on three separate days in the coming weeks.
And yet, the country is no closer to understanding the logic behind the Cabinet's sudden proclamation on Local Government legislation.
Perhaps if Dr Rowley had come forward earlier, or made the announcement himself instead of passing the buck to Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi, we could have avoided yet another legal battle which will cost taxpayers millions in legal fees.
But the Prime Minister’s continued silence on this issue is making it harder to stave off the cries that his administration is marching the country towards a dictatorship.
Part of Mr Balgobin’s argument is that if the PNM can postpone the Local Government Election, what’s to stop them from postponing a general election?
But alas! It’s not too late. There’s still time for the Prime Minister to face the nation to let citizens know what prompted the decision and when we can realistically expect a date for the local government poll.