Guyana court rules against government. Government to appeal to CCJ

The Caribbean Court of Justice

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The Guyana government says it intends to challenge all the way to the country’s “highest court of appeal”, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ),  the ruling of acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire that the motion of no confidence passed in the National Assembly on December 21 last year is valid.

In a brief statement late on Thursday night, the David Granger-led coalition government said it had taken “note and respects” the ruling handed down earlier during the day.

Due process continues

“The ruling is not in favor of the Government’s position with regard to the vote on December 21st 2018 however due process continues and the Government will file an appeal in the Court of Appeal. The government continues to believe that the full adjudication of this issue is in the national interest,” the statement said.

Under the Guyana Constitution elections must be held within 90 days of the motion of no confidence being passed.

Justice George-Wiltshire delivered her ruling in the three matters regarding the validity of the successful opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) motion of no confidence.

Last month she heard the arguments in the cases “Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly; Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.

The matters arose after the then government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud, who holds both Guyana and Canadian citizenship voted with the PPP in the 65-member National Assembly where the coalition government had previously enjoyed a slender one seat major

In a near four-hour ruling, Justice George-Wiltshire also said that anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 of the Guyana Constitution “should not and could not be” a member of the Guyana Parliament.

Attorney General Basil Williams had argued there was a miscalculation of the majority of all elected members as required under Article 106 (6) of the Constitution for the government to be defeated on a vote of no confidence.

He had also asked the court to determine  whether Resolution 101 is constitutional and effective and passed in accordance Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, arguing that the failure to obtain 34 or more votes breached article 106 (6) of the Constitution and was unlawful and the certification by the speaker by issuing Resolution 101 could not be conclusive.”

But in her ruling in which she made the differentiation between a “simple” and “absolute” majority, the Acting Chief Justice said if all 65 members voted, the majority is 33.

Status Quo remains

In the statement on Thursday night, the government said “until the matter is concluded at the highest court of appeal the status quo remains and the business of government continues as usual”

“The government reassures the Guyanese people that it will continue to act in accordance with the constitution of Guyana,” the statement added.

In his submissions, the Attorney General had said that the framers of the Constitution in article 70 (3), having guaranteed an elected government, a five years term of office which five years term is protected by entrenchment by the requirement of 2/3 of all the elected members of the National Assembly voting to reduce that five years, could not at the same time have intended that a future Parliament were to be permitted to abridge or curtail the enjoyment of that five years, by introducing into the Constitution via a provision that is not entrenched at all a process called a ‘vote of confidence.”

But in her ruling the judge disagreed with the argument. The coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) came to office in 2015.

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