Govt’s authority not affected by dissolution of Parliament – AG Williams

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Quoting Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., explained:

“Cabinet and the President shall resign at the same time the Government does… And what time is that? It is when elections are held and the President takes the oath of office following the elections as set out in article 106 (7) of the constitution,” Minister Williams explained.

The Attorney General’s statement formed part of government’s response to Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George’s question as to, “Whether, if the Government is defeated on a no-confidence [motion], the resignation of Cabinet takes immediate effect?”

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., addresses members of the media at the High Court in Georgetown.

In his response Minister Williams stated “No” … citing the following reasons;

(a) Article 106 – the purpose of Article 106 is to establish a Cabinet, set out the composition of the Cabinet, outline its functions and duties and procedure for meetings.  It must be noted that subparagraphs (6) and (7) were inserted into Article 106 by Act No 17 of 2000. Subparagraph (6) provides for the resignation of the Cabinet and President and subparagraph (7) for the timeframe of that resignation.

AG Williams said it is, however, the First Named Respondent’s contention that these two insertions are inconsistent with the purpose of Article 106 and leads to an ambiguous interpretation and absurd construction of the Article.

The Attorney General has submitted a letter addressed to Dr. Ashni Singh dated February 4, 2015, when the Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall answered questions posed by Sophie Makonnen, Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and said among other things, the proclamation is unnecessary.

According to the AG, in any event, under the Westminster Constitutional model, an Executive Government continues in office with unaltered powers until a new Executive Government assumes office.

He further explained that this principle of continuity of the Executive remains unaffected by the dissolution of Parliament.

Therefore, dissolution of Parliament does not affect the authority of the Government to enter into a new loan or grant agreements, unless of course, the agreement expressly requires the input of the Parliament.

Government’s case concerning the December 21 vote in the National Assembly is before the High Court.

Felecia Valenzuela.

Image: Jules Gibson.

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