CCJ to hear the appeal of no confidence rulings on May 10

Justice Saunders strongly advised that all attorneys appearing on May 10 do so physically in court and not via Skype

The respective sides are to file written submissions by April 17 and replies to the written submissions are to be filed by April 23

DPI, Guyana, Friday, March 29, 2019

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will begin hearing matters, on May 10, 2019, regarding the appeals of the Guyana Court of Appeal rulings on the December 21, 2018 vote.

President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders made the announcement earlier today, strongly advising that all attorneys appearing on May 10 do so physically in court and not via Skype. The matters have been consolidated.

On Friday, March 22, Appellate Judges, Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory upheld the argument that an absolute majority is required for the passage of no-confidence motion against the Government.

The two Judges agreed that an absolute majority in the context, calls for 34; not 33 votes of all elected members of the National Assembly. Justice Rishi Persaud, on the other hand, disagreed. He ruled 33 to 32 votes validly passed the no-confidence motion. That decision was previously handed down by Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George at the High Court.

On January 31 last, the acting Chief Justice declared that “In our 65-member National Assembly, a majority of all elected members, in accordance with the principle of ‘one over all rivals combined’, is thirty-three (33) members.”

The matters being appealed before the CCJ are Compton Reid, a private citizen, challenging the vote of expelled Alliance For Change (AFC)6 Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud.

Persaud had cast a vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against the Coalition Government list, which he represented contrary to Article 156 (3).

Reid challenged the validity of the motion on the basis that Persaud is not qualified for elections as a member of the National Assembly due to his dual citizenship by virtue of his allegiance to Canada, a foreign power.

The Appeal Court’s ruling as it relates to the majority vote count required for the successful passage of no-confidence motion.

And the third case, Attorney-at-law Christopher Ram called for a declaration that the passage of the no-confidence motion requires the resignation of the Cabinet including the President with all convenient speed.

Ram is asking the CCJ to mandate that general elections be held before the current voters’ list expires on April 30. Should the list expire there will have to be a new round of house to house registration to which the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) objects.

This hearing will follow on the heels of the matter involving an appeal filed by the PPP, through its Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha, regarding the ruling of the acting Chief Justice, in the matter of the challenge to the constitutionality of President Granger’s appointment of (ret’d) Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on May 8, 2019.

October last, the Court of Appeal upheld President David Granger’s decision to unilaterally appoint retired Justice James Patterson to the office of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, (GECOM) as constitutional.

The unanimous decision was handed down by Appeal Court Justices Chancellor (ag), Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory.

A similar ruling was handed down by Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George. She ruled that the President enjoys the right to reject the list of names provided by Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, and unilaterally appoint someone from the judicial category as Chairman of GECOM, as outlined in Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana.

The PPP has been challenging President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of the 84-year-old retired judge made on October 19, last year.

The respective sides are to file written submissions by April 17 and replies to the written submissions are to be filed by April 23.

Kidackie Amsterdam