Guyana heading to a crisis

Gov't, Opposition differ on High Court move to declare motion of no-confidence invalid

Monday, January 07, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The main Opposition People's Progressive Party (PPP) is challenging a move by the Government to use the issue of dual citizenship in a bid to overturn the December 21 motion of no-confidence last year that resulted in the downfall of the coalition headed by p resident David Granger.

On Friday, Senior Counsel Rex McKay and a team of high-powered lawyers filed an application in the Supreme Court against the results of the no-confidence motion, singling out the dual citizenship of former government legislator Charrandass Persaud who voted in favour of the motion that was passed by a 33-32 margin in the 65-member parliament..

But the PPP contends that the Guyana Constitution provides for the preservation of all acts by parliamentarians although he or she might have been ineligible to sit in the National Assembly.

“The assembly may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership (including any vacancy not filled when the assembly first meets after the commencement of this constitution or after any dissolution of parliament), and the presence or participation of any person not entitled to be present at or to participate in the proceedings of the assembly shall not invalidate those proceedings,” the PPP said.

The High Court matter has been filed on behalf of New Amsterdam farmer Compton Herbert Reid, and lists the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland, Persaud and the Attorney General Basil Williams as the respondents.

Reid is also asking the High Court to declare that Persaud was not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly by virtue of his own act and acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power, being the Sovereign State of Canada, in contravention of Article 155 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana.

Additionally, the Court is being asked to declare that Persaud was disqualified on April 7, 2015 from being nominated as a member of the national assembly, and that his nomination as a candidate on the list of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change is invalid, null and void, and of no legal effect.

Reid is also asking the High Court to declare that Persaud is a citizen of Canada and is the holder of a valid Canadian passport which will expire in 2022, and that he was the holder of another valid Canadian passport which expired last year.

He wants the High Court to declare that Persaud's December 21 vote in the National Assembly in favour of the no-confidence motion was null, void and of no legal effect. The High Court is also being asked to declare that the no-confidence motion was not passed as a result of Persaud's vote.

But the PPP, which said it would also join the proceedings, is urging other interested parties to do likewise.

No date has been fixed as yet for the commencement of the hearing, but the Opposition party has dismissed the Government's move as “frivolous”.

The PPP, which lost the 2015 Presidential and General Election, said the High Court motion was aimed at having the Government hold on to power instead of calling general elections, and called on the High Court to hear the matter quickly.

“We urge the judiciary not to be complicit in any conspiracy to undermine and flout the constitution and make a mockery of our democracy. We expect that this matter would be heard on a day-to-day basis and that the judiciary would not contribute to the Government's violation of the constitution.”

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