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GUYANA| Attorney General asks High Court to calculate “absolute majority” in no-confidence vote

Featured Attorney General Basil Williams Attorney General Basil Williams
GEORGETOWN,  Guyana, January 7, 2019 - The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC., today, filed a legal action challenging the legality of the December 21, 2018 vote in the National Assembly and asked the High Court to find that 34 instead of 33 votes are required to pass a no-confidence motion. This is the second case to be filed in the matter.

The Attorney General is requesting that the court rules on several issues including whether the Speaker’s Ruling the motion debated in the National Assembly on the December 21 was carried by a vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is unlawful, null and void being contrary to Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana.

In the court document released by the Attorney General’s Chambers, the request is being made for the court  to also determine whether the motion, upon a division vote of 33:32 Members of the National Assembly, was validly passed as the requisite majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly pursuant to article 106 (6) of the Constitution; and whether the requisite majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly ought to be 34 votes.

Further, the court was asked to determine whether the President and all Ministers of the Government can remain in Office as a majority vote was not duly carried in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution; whether the court can make an order setting aside or nullifying the Speaker’s ruling that the motion was carried; whether the court can make an order staying the enforcement of Resolution 101 declared by the Clerk of the National Assembly to have been passed on December 21, 2018, in the National Assembly.

The High court was also asked to determine whether the court can grant a conservatory order, preserving the status quo ante that the President and all Ministers of the Government remain in office until the hearing and determination of the questions being sought.

On Friday, January 4, the first court case was filed by private citizen Compton Herbert Reid, through Attorney-at-Law and Senior Counsel, Rex Mc Kay’s Chambers. The respondents, in that case, are Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland and expelled Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament (MP), Charrandass Persaud.

According to the Attorney General, “the claim is restricted to the disqualification of Charrandass Persaud at the time that he voted; that he was not qualified to vote as a member of the National Assembly because of his dual citizenship.”

In the meantime,Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has applied to the High Court to be a party to the proceedings filed by Compton Reid on Friday, challenging the validity of Charrandas Persaud’s vote because he is a Canadian citizen and should not have been even elected to sit in the House and, moreover, vote.

A team of lawyers, led by Attorney Anil Nandlall, on Monday filed an application for Jagdeo to be joined on the matter, because “the main thrust of the proceedings filed” by Reid is to invalidate the no-confidence motion and to ultimately prevent its constitutional consequences” – resignation of the President and Cabinet, calling of general elections in 90 days or having the House extend that period by a two-thirds majority.

“It is imperative that the Applicant be permitted to join these proceedings not only to protect its integrity but in order to protect and preserve the will of a majority of the elected members who voted in favour of the said No Confidence Motion and also to protect and preserve the sanctity of proceedings in the National Assembly as well as the Constitution of Guyana,” the court filings state.

  • Countries: Guyana

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