Acting Chief Justice to rule on Dec. 21 vote by January month end

─ intends to stick with timelines given to parties to make their submissions and rebuttals

DPI Guyana, Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George, upon hearing the first case challenging the December 21, 2018 vote in the National Assembly, said she will rule on all cases related to the vote at the end of this month and will treat same with urgency.

The Attorneys in the matters will have to file their pleadings and make their submissions by January 18 while rebuttals will be heard by January 21. Oral arguments have been set for January 23 and 24.

The Acting Chief Justice said she will stick to the timelines given to the parties to make their submissions and rebuttals.

Speaking to the media after the hearing on Tuesday, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., said that while the timeline is ‘tight’ he intends to proceed with his submissions and arguments.

“I have been working on it… and it depends because the Leader of the Opposition said he’s not filing anything on Christopher Ram’s matter… I obviously support the application by Campton Reid, so I would develop my application in relation to the requisite majority which we contended was not obtained… so, we would try to manage the timelines.”

The Attorney General said the APNU+AFC Government upholds its position that the December 21, 2018 vote was not passed by a majority in the Parliament. He explained that Article 70 is an entrenched provision in the constitution, and it requires a two-thirds majority to be amended.

“That article provided for five-year term and only the President, who is part of the Government, can truncate that term by dissolving the Parliament or proroguing, but there is no provision by the framers. In fact, it was not in the 1980 Constitution, the framers of the 1980 Constitution dropped that provision out. It was in the 1966 Constitution but was not included in the 1980. It was only included in 2000 when several others were included.”

On the issue of the acting Chief Justice not granting a hearing of the conservatory order for the government to remain in office, Minister Williams said:

“I think it’s reasonable that the time that she’s given will really suffice, that there’s expiration of the time on Article 106:07.”

The three matters before the court following the December 21 vote in the National Assembly are Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, former Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly. The Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland and the Opposition Leader, and Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly.

During Tuesday’s hearing, APNU’s General-Secretary and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon was given the green light to join the Compton Reid matter.  He is being represented by Attorney Roysdale Forde.

However, the Chief Justice threw out an application by Saphier Hussain of the National Independence Party, to become part of the matter.

By: Synieka Thorne.

Images: Adrian Persaud.

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