Ram committed error using statutory interpretation of constitution – AG Williams
─ says government remains functional until new President sworn in
─ Chief Justice to make ruling on Jan 31
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, SC today said Accountant Christopher Ram, in his application to the High Court, committed an error using the statutory interpretation of the Constitution.
The Attorney General was responding to arguments put forward by Ram’s Attorney Kamal Ramkarran in the Supreme Court before Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George.
Ram’s application in the High Court seeks to challenge the legality of the government. Through his lawyer, he is asking that the administration resigns from active duty and function only as a “caretaker” government.
However, the Attorney General said it is clear that the applicant did not ” think through” his submission. He said Ram did not consider collectively articles 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution which, he said must be read together.
“It’s a simple thing. No lesser a person that the former President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, in looking at our constitution, with two categories because of the words “all elected members”. The other articles that were mentioned, if you see it is two-thirds of all elected members not simple or absolute.”
According to AG Williams Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana requires that “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Article 106 (7) provides that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
He said Articles 106 (6) and (7) are to be read together with Articles 61 and 70.
According to the Attorney General, the constitution does not speak to a caretaker government. He said it would be absolute chaos should each minister of government be left on his own. He submitted that the administration remains and carry out its functions accordingly.
Addressing the issue of the majority, the AG reiterated that the motion of December 21 could not be the same as a simple majority. He then explained to the court that an absolute majority was in fact needed for the successful passage of the motion.
The Christopher Ram versus the Attorney General and opposition leader 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 Compton Reid and the Attorney General Versus the Speaker of the National Assembly on Thursday and the Attorney General Versus the Speaker of the National Assembly and the opposition leader on Friday.
Chief Justice George told the parties she should make a ruling on January 31.
Images: Marceano Narine.