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Oct 19, 1999

Ghandi’s contract up, Flowers as Acting Sol Gen

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The new Attorney General Godfrey Smith may only have issued his plan of action last week, but he has lost no time in taking the first steps towards revamping the administration of Belizean justice. The most visible change, announced today, is the removal of Solicitor General Gian Ghandi. Ghandi has been a fixture in Belmopan through the last four successive governments and was considered the capital’s consummate survivor. As the U.D.P. government’s chief legal advisor he came under heavy fire in the mid nineties from the Opposition P.U.P., for the unusual zeal with which he argued the government’s cause. The following clip from August, 1997 reflects the tenor of those times.

Gian Ghandi, Solicitor General

(20th August, 1997) “I have no doubt that if the P.U.P. Government wants me to continue I will continue; I will have no difficulty at all. I think the propaganda which was there was to discredit, not me personally but the prosecution’s evidence as such. It was done satisfactorily and we were just trying to help the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have said it before that I have no particular intention to continue. If the P.U.P. don’t want me that’s fine with me. I have very good contact with the P.U.P. and if they want me to continue I will continue. I have no difficulty with the U.D.P. or P.U.P. government, anyone which succeeds.”

Many observers were surprised that Ghandi lasted as long as he did with the P.U.P. government but apparently the combination of the expiry of his contract and the ascension of his former antagonist Godfrey Smith to the Attorney Generalship sealed his fate. In the meantime, until a permanent replacement can be found, attorney Edwin Flowers will act as Sol Gen. Flowers told News Five that he has offered to help the government on a temporary basis but has no intention of leaving private practice where he is a partner in the law firm of Musa and Balderamos. The appointment takes effect on November first. The Solicitor General’s office will also be revamped and will no longer be responsible for the Ministry’s administration. Permanent Secretary Marion McNab, recently transferred from the Ministry of Tourism, told News Five she will now oversee the basic administrative and financial functions of the courts, judiciary and Director of Public Prosecutions office. She says procedures covering everything from payroll to the issuing of birth certificates need to be examined and made more efficient. The Solicitor General’s office will also be freed from producing legislation. This will now be carried out at the office of Parliamentary Counsel headed by Elson Kaseke. The Attorney General’s Ministry says the changes are intended to allow the Solicitor General’s office to concentrate on providing legal advice to the government and handling lawsuits. As for Gian Ghandi, who first came to Belize from London in 1978 to work as a Crown Counsel, he told News Five that he will enter private practice… most likely in Belmopan.

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