Charandass was duty bound to vote for the list from which his name was extracted – SC Neil Boston

Says there’s no such thing as ‘conscience vote’

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, January 24, 2018

Oral arguments on the Compton Reid court case challenging the validity of former Member of Parliament, Charandass Persaud’s December 21, 2018 vote in the National Assembly was heard today by Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George, in the Supreme Court.

Senior Counsel Neil Boston, who represented Compton Reid argued that Persaud’s vote was invalid because of his allegiance to a foreign country and that he voted against the list from which his name was extracted during the electoral process in 2015.

“We feel under Article 153 of the Constitution of Guyana since our electoral system is one of proportional representation and your name is extracted from the list of candidates; Charandass’ name was extracted from the APNU+AFC list so he cannot vote against the list from which his name was extracted. There is no such thing as a conscience vote,” Boston told the media after his submission.

Boston contended that Persaud’s vote on December 21 against the list from which his name was extracted is against  Article 156 (3) of Guyana’s constitution, which states that a Member of the National Assembly elected on a list shall cease to be a member of the Assembly if he or she declares in writing to the Speaker  or to the representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted.

“So, notionally he is no longer an elected member of the National Assembly and therefore his vote cannot be taken into consideration. Notionally, his vote went, his seat went and it would have been 32-32,” Boston said.

Subsequent to his December 21 vote, it was also discovered for the first time, that Persaud was a dual citizen of Canada and Guyana. Boston told the court that Persaud has been a citizen of Canada since 1998 and renewed his passport on three occasions. He also travelled in and out of Guyana on many occasions using his Canadian passport.

Rubbishing Anil Nandlall’s argument against the Compton Reid case was Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC. who said that the “court’s hands are not tied and so, they can properly proceed with the matter.”

Nandlall’s argument suggested that the matter was one of election petitions, however according to the AG, the election period has already passed and therefore the issue now is “what happens after that period has passed, can somebody who is disqualified remain and have to wait until another election period?”

The speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland was represented by Attorney at Law, Rafiq Khan. The Speaker indicated that he will abide by the court’s ruling and therefore no oral submission was made on his behalf.

APNU’s General-Secretary and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon is being represented by Attorney Roysdale Forde who also made submissions in support of Senior Counsel Boston.

The Compton Reid versus the Speaker, Former MP Charandass Persaud and the Attorney General case heard today is one of three matters before the Chief Justice, following the December 21, 2018 vote in the National Assembly. The Chief Justice will hear the matter involving the Attorney General Versus the Speaker of the National Assembly and the opposition leader on Friday, January 25.

The Chief Justice will make a ruling on all the cases on January 31.

Synieka Thorne.

Images: Jules Gibson and Marciano Narine.