…warns Trini Govt in dealings with Guyana caretaker GovtT&T Energy Minister Franklin Khan speaking at the eventThe publication in which Charles criticises the Minister for attending the eventPro-PPP supporters protest the Government outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in TrinidadThe presence of a Trinidadian Minister at the Guyana Government’s recent investment outreach in Trinidad and Tobago has drawn criticism from a lawmaker in the twin island Republic, who is urging his Government to maintain neutrality when dealing with Guyana’s caretaker Government.Trinidad Member of Parliament Rodney Charles, who represents Naparima, was quoted in Trinidad’s Newsday berating the twin island’s Energy Minister, Franklin Khan, for attending at the event.The event, which was picketed by pro-Opposition supporters— who held placards urging the coalition to comply with the Constitution– was held by Guyana’s Government at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain on Friday last. Charles pointed out to Minister Khan that a question mark hangs over Guyana’s Government following the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) rulings.The Parliamentarian was quoted reminding Khan that the CCJ ruled that the Guyana Government should operate as a caretaker government with the main purpose of calling elections as soon as possible.“The CCJ, the highest Court in Guyana, recently ruled that the present Government in Guyana led by President David Granger should operate as a caretaker government with the primary purpose of calling elections as soon as possible to determine the will of the Guyanese peoples. That is its only job,” Newsday quoted Charles as saying.According to Charles in the news report, it was doubtful whether hosting the investment outreach could be classified as a caretaker responsibility. Moreover, Charles in the news report also referenced Trinidad Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s foreign policy of non-interference.He noted that Khan was out of order for attending the Guyana Government-hosted event. Moreover, he questioned the repercussions if the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) were to win the next elections that must be held following the passage of the No-Confidence Motion.“If, in fact, a TT minister of Government attended an official function in our country last week hosted by the Government of President David Granger to raise investments… that would be entirely out of order. How will (a potential PPP Government) view our actions in the run up to the elections? Will this affect our relations with Guyana?”He pointed out in the Newsday that it is clearly not in “T&T’s national interest at this time to appear to be taking sides either with the present caretaker Government of David Granger or with the Opposition. Given all the circumstances, our national interest will be best served by being scrupulously neutral”. Efforts by this publication to reach both Charles and Khan were futile.No confidenceGuyana’s Government fell to a No-Confidence Motion on December 21, 2018, and approached the Courts soon after to overturn the vote. When the matter reached the CCJ, the regional Court validated the vote.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has always maintained that the Government should be acting in a caretaker capacity only and not be entering into large scale contracts. Jagdeo’s position was vindicated by the CCJ on July 12, when it ruled that the Government should be in a caretaker status.CCJ President Adrian Saunders had outlined that the Cabinet, including the President, should have already been resigned, thus, reaffirming that the APNU/AFC coalition is in, in fact, and should be in a caretaker mode leading up to elections.“Article 106 envisaged that the tenure in office of the Cabinet, including the President after the Government’s defeat, is on a different footage from that which existed prior to the vote of no confidence…By convention, the Government is expected to behave, during this interim period, as a caretaker and so restrain the exercise of its legal authority. It is this caretaker or interim role that explains the three-month deadline in the first instance that the Article lays down in principle for the holding of fresh elections,” Justice Saunders stated.Since the post-judgement hearing at the CCJ last month, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) lawyer Stanley Marcus and Attorney General Basil Williams had both argued that the Article 106 (7) provision meant the President and his Cabinet had to remain in power until after a new President was sworn inBut CCJ Judge Justice Jacob Wit had also debunked this argument. He had noted that it is international practice that following a successful No-Confidence Motion, a caretaker government is usually left in place with a limited timeframe in which to carry out snap elections.He had made it clear that contrary to the Government’s arguments, a provision for a caretaker government does not have to be explicit in the Constitution as this is a standard and recognised international practice.Following the ruling, the coalition Government issued a statement in which it claimed that it accepted its “interim” status, but Cabinet has not stopped functioning.