Gov’t to move to CCJ as Court of Appeal rules Presidential term limit unconstitutional

Guyana GINA, February 22, 2017

The Government of Guyana will be moving to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to challenge the presidential third term limit. The Court of Appeal today, ruled that presidential term limits are unconstitutional.

In 2015, the then Chief Justice, Ian Chang (ag) ruled that the constitutional amendment, Act No. 17 of 2001, which limits the number of times a person could be elected as President was unconstitutional. He said that such decisions require a referendum

Hon. Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs

During the ruling today, Justice B.S. Roy and Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh  dismissed the appeal by Attorney General Basil Williams, SC and former Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman, and upheld the ruling of the former Chief Justice; however, Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards allowed the appeal of the High Court decision.

Minister Williams said the State has good grounds to move to the CCJ, and it will do so within the given time period, which iswithin 30 days.

“It’s a divided court, it wasn’t unanimous…It is important that these things are finally resolved, I wasn’t the Attorney General in the beginning and as you heard the court said Former AG Anil Nandlall didn’t raise certain points when he was supposed to, but the decision would mean that anybody would come to court and there are really no checks and balances so the CCJ needs to address these issues,” the Attorney General explained.

Attorney Roysdale Forde reiterated that he remains confident with the arguments that were submitted. He said that matter will be dealt with at the level of the CCJ.

Justice Singh in his ruling told the court that the decision to limit the Presidential terms should have gone to the electorate by way of a referendum, and not by the National Assembly, solely.

However, Chief Justice (ag) Cummings-Edwards did not agree with Justice Chang’s ruling, and offered the view that by the electorate choosing the members of the National Assembly via elections, they would have given that power to the members to make amendments to the Constitution.

The case was filed against the Attorney General and the National Assembly in 2015 by Georgetown resident, Cedric Richardson.

In 2000, the National Assembly passed amendments to the Act governing eligibility to seek Presidency of Guyana. Those amendments made it ineligible for someone who would have been elected to serve twice as President to seek a third term.

By: Synieka Thorne

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