Court rules no confidence motion against Guyana Gov't valid

Friday, February 01, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George- Wiltshire yesterday ruled that the motion of no confidence passed in the National Assembly on December 21 last year, that brought down the David Granger-led coalition Government, is valid, paving the way for fresh regional and general elections to be held here later this year.

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

Attorney General Basil Williams has since given notice that he intends to appeal the ruling.

In a new 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.

Justice George-Wiltshire was delivering her ruling in the three matters regarding the validity of the successful Opposition People's Progressive Party (PPP) motion of no confidence.

She had earlier this month 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 majority.

Williams had said 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 to 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.

“Therefore, in the case for the requirement for a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly, at least 33 votes ought to be obtained to meet that requirement. If 55 members are present, a majority of all members of the National Assembly will still be 33. If only 45 members are present, a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33 and even if 23 members are present, the majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is still 33.”

She said as a result “the no-confidence motion is carried, the requisite majority is obtained by a vote of 33 to 32. The president and the ministers can't therefore remain in government beyond the three months within which elections are required to be held in accordance with Article 106 of Article Seven unless that time is enlarged by the National Assembly in accordance with the requirements of said Article 106…”

Earlier, the acting chief justice ruled that “anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 and therefore falls into this category… should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament” and as such the declaration sought in terms of paragraph one and two of the request for leave are granted.


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