Decision Friday

― Justice Yonette Cummings Edwards to hand down ruling on Friday March 22

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, March 21, 2019

Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, on Wednesday afternoon, announced that the decisions in all three matters before the Appeal Court that stemmed from the acting Chief Justice’s rulings on the December 21 Vote in the National Assembly will be handed down on Friday, March 22 at 15:00hrs.

Also, the Court of Appeal refused to grant a stay on the effects of the no-confidence vote since the acting Chancellor said that would be overtaken by Friday’s ruling.

Counsel for the appellant, Neil Boston.

Wednesday’s sitting heard lawyers representing Compton Reid, who is challenging the validity of Charrandass Persaud’s vote given his dual citizenship.

Boston, in his presentation, said the acting Chief Justice misdirected herself in her ruling which said Charrandass Persaud was ineligible to be elected to the National Assembly by virtue of his dual citizenship, yet his vote was preserved.

Further, Boston said the acting Chief Justice misdirected herself on the matter of Charrandass Persaud “crossing the floor” to vote against the list from which he was extracted.

“Our argument is clear that the [acting] Chief Justice misunderstood the issue before her. She should have considered the alternative position where Mr. Charrandass voted contrary to section 156 (3) of the constitution. If he has done so we are not asking to decide whether his seat is vacant we are saying that since he has contravened article 156 (3) of the constitution we are complaining that the court can deal with that constitutional issue without the need for an elections petition as set out in section 40 of the National Assembly Validity of Elections Act. The whole issue the court has to consider is, could Charrandass have voted against the party list from which his name was extracted without notifying the speaker or the list representative.”

According to Boston, Persaud’s failure to inform the Speaker of the National Assembly of his intention should result in the invalidation of his vote.

“If he has done so what is the consequence of so doing, we are saying the consequence of so doing, is, his vote cannot be counted. This issue is all about interpretation of the constitution whenever the [acting] Chief Justice interpreted 165 (2) by itself, she must interpret it in conjunction with 156 (3) when the allegation is that he has violated 156 (3) and in so doing then his vote is not saved. The resolution is valid, but his vote is not saved so the vote is 32-32 it can’t be 33-32,” Boston explained.

Should this be the case, the motion would stand as not carried thereby allowing the government to continue its term in office until elections are due in 2020.

Boston explained that Persaud’s vote should be invalidated because as a member of parliament he is there as a representative of a specific list and not a constituency because the country’s electoral is one of proportional representation.

“The whole idea behind why a member of the National Assembly cannot vote against the list from which his name has been extracted is because he doesn’t have a constituency. No one voted for him. There are 65 members in the parliament. He cannot say this is his constituency and these people voted for him. His name was extracted from a geographic list for Region Six. APNU+AFC had four persons on that geographic list, any of those four names could have been extracted, “Boston emphasised.

Boston said the framers of the article 165 (2) were deliberate in coaching the article to ensure a member of a list remains loyal to that list, a method of preserving representative democracy.

“The intention of the framers of the constitution is for Mr. Charrandass to write the speaker, or the list representative is because it works well for representative democracy nobody didn’t vote for you. You came on a list, so the representative democracy must be interpreted in a purposive way for representative democracy you cannot for no reason whatsoever vote against the party from which your name has been extracted,” the counsellor said.

Following Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George’s decisions, following Compton Reid’s challenge to the validity of the December 21 Vote, that the vote stands as the complainant has moved to the Court of Appeal to quash the ruling on the grounds that the acting Chief Justice erred in several of her decisions.