CCJ cannot set period for elections – AG Chambers states in written submission to CCJ

power lies with Parliament

GECOM cannot hold elections without Chairman

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers has declared that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) does not have the authority to extend the period for elections in Guyana, noting that such powers lie in the hands of Guyana’s Parliament.

In its written submission to the CCJ, dated July 1, the AG Chambers said there is no provision in the Constitution that empowers the Court to displace constitutional duty of the Parliament and to extend the time for the holding of elections.

“There are at least two fundamental principles of constitutional law that deny this Court the power to extend the period for the elections to be held. First, Article 106 (7) expressly gives to the National Assembly the exclusive power to extend the period. Extending the period for holding elections is not a legal question. It is self-evidently a political question for determination by the Executive and the Legislature. If, in this case, the Court were to seek to exercise that power, it would be violating the separation of powers doctrine,” the order stated.

The Chamber’s legal team, headed by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., proposed that the government should convene the National Assembly to have a resolution passed in order that the time be extended for the holding of an election within the earliest time.

“If for any reason, however, the National Assembly does not pass the Resolution or the Resolution does not garner the requisite majority for an extension, President David Granger following consultation with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should dissolve the National Assembly and General and Regional Elections should be held on a date to be fixed by the Head of State.”

Addressing the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the legal team stated that the appointment of a GECOM chair is subject to a mandatory constitutional process. And until the President and the Leader of the Opposition complete that process, GECOM’s work will be affected.

The government lawyers said unless and until a Chairman of GECOM is appointed, it will be constitutionally incapable of lawfully directing, supervising and administering the elections which are required to be held.

President Granger and Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo met last week to discuss matters of a new Chairman for the Commission.

The team of lawyers include Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, and Attorneys-at-law Iliana Swift and Jerome Rajcoomar.