Tue | Feb 19, 2019

Court rules motion of no confidence against Guyana government valid

Published:Friday | February 1, 2019 | 11:13 AM
Guyana's Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire - CMC photo

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire Thursday ruled that the motion of no confidence that brought down the David Granger led coalition government is valid.

This paves the way for fresh regional and general elections to be held later this year.

The motion was passed in the National Assembly on December 21 last 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 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.

She was delivering her ruling in the three matters regarding the validity of the successful opposition People’s Progressive Party motion of no confidence.

The matters arose after the then government backbencher Charrandass Persaud, who holds both Guyana and Canadian citizenship, voted with the progressive party 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 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…”

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