…says GECOM, by Guyana’s Constitution, required to be in a state of readiness
The Bar Council of the Guyana Bar Association on Wednesday said it welcomes the recent ruling of acting Chief Justice Roxane George in the legal challenge arising out of the December 21, 2018 no-confidence resolution and called for the announcement of the date for constitutionally mandated General and Regional Elections.
Chief Justice George, on January 31, issued rulings in three cases arising out of the no-confidence resolution that toppled the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government. On Monday, the released written judgement prompted the statement from the Bar Association.
“We note the ruling of the Honourable Chief Justice (ag) at paragraph 108 of the written judgement in Attorney General of Guyana v Dr Barton Scotland, Mr Bharrat Jagdeo and Mr Joseph Harmon, Action No 2019-HC-DEM-CIV-FDA-22 as follows: I hold that the NCM was carried as the requisite majority was obtained by a vote of 33:32. The President and the Ministers cannot therefore remain in Government beyond the three months within which elections are required to be held in accordance with Article 106(7), unless that time is enlarged by the National Assembly in accordance with the requirements of the said Art 106(7),” the statement read.
Following the passage of the No-confidence Motion, the Bar Association urged that the results and consequences of the motion be accepted and that urgent preparations for elections by the Elections Commission be started. They also warned that should elections not be held within the 90 days as stipulated by Article 106(6) of the Constitution, then it could lead to instability, adding that Guyana’s democracy should be protected by the “unambiguous adherence to the rule of law.”
“To date, 54 days have elapsed since the passage of the motion and no date has been fixed for elections within the required constitutional period or otherwise. Neither the filing of appeals nor applications for orders staying the operation of the clear timelines fixed by the Constitution can stop the time from running within which elections must be held. Only a resolution of the National Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds of all of its elected members can extend the time for elections if it is necessary to do so,” the statement said. The Bar Association added that GECOM, in accordance with the Constitution, is required to be in a state of readiness to conduct elections at any time within three months of the passing of a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.
“The Bar Council therefore renews its call on all parties concerned, including the President, the Leader of the Opposition and the Guyana Elections Commission, to take such immediate steps as will avoid Guyana entering into a constitutional crisis and prevent the dire effects such a crisis could have on the country… The Guyana Elections Commission and all other stakeholders required for the conduct of elections are bound by the operation of the Constitution, the supreme law of Guyana.”
According to the Bar Association, GECOM is required by the Constitution to issue instructions for the preparation for elections and take such action as appear necessary or expedient to ensure fairness, impartiality and compliance with the Constitution on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections.