CCJ did not have to set specific election date – PPP

…ruling clearly outlines 3-month constitutional timeline for elections
…Court may have overestimated integrity of constitutional actors

When the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) delivered its ruling on the No-Confidence Motion, they were hopeful that local politicians would act responsibly. But according to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the regional court may have been too optimistic.

Opposition Leader
Bharrat Jagdeo

In a statement on Sunday, in which the party called out Trade Unionist Lincoln Lewis for distorting the CCJ rulings, the PPP noted that the regional court overestimated the integrity of Government apologists.
In his weekly column, Lewis had claimed that the September 18 deadline for General and Regional Elections emanated from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and others, but not the CCJ. The party made it clear that this was not true.
“His assertions must be condemned as nothing but a barefaced attempt to mislead. He selectively refers to one sentence from the consequential orders granted by the Caribbean Court of Justice,” the party said in its statement.
“Had Lincoln Lewis read the consequential orders, issued by the Court on July 12, 2019, in totality, he would have been clear on what is now the constitutionally mandated deadline for elections to be held in Guyana.”
The party reminded that Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana mandates that General and Regional Elections are to be held within three months of the passage of a No-Confidence Motion. And the CCJ in its ruling made direct reference to this.
“Paragraph six of the CCJ’s consequential orders states that: “Given the passage of the No-Confidence Motion on 21 December 2018, a general election should have been held in Guyana by 21 March 2019,” the party noted.
“Further, the CCJ’s consequential orders goes on to add that, “The filing of the court
proceedings in January challenging the validity of the no-confidence vote effectively placed matters on pause, but this Court rendered its decision on 18 June 2019. The CCJ was clear that the clock on the three-month election timeline started on June 18, 2019 – meaning the deadline for elections to be held end on September 18, 2019.”

General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, Lincoln Lewis

Lack of understanding
The party, therefore, questioned whether political opportunism or a lack of understanding could be behind attempts to confuse the CCJ rulings. The PPP pointed out that even though the regional court did not set a specific date, they pronounced clearly on the timeline within which elections should be held.
“On Lincoln Lewis’ point that the Caribbean Court of Justice did not set a date for elections, he seems to miss the point that the Court pronounced on the timeline within which elections must be held.

The party would recommend that he reads paragraph five of the CCJ’s consequential orders. It states clearly that… upon the passage of a vote of no confidence, the Article requires the resignation of the Cabinet including the President.”
“The Article goes on to state, among other things, that notwithstanding such resignation, the Government shall remain in office and that an election shall be held 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.”
The party also pointed out that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is itself bound by the Constitution and must abide by the constitutional provisions of three months. This is something the party has long criticised GECOM for not doing.
“It would seem that the Caribbean Court of Justice overestimated the levels of integrity among the likes of Lincoln Lewis and others when, in paragraph seven of its consequential orders, it said ‘the Court must assume that these bodies and personages will exercise their responsibilities with integrity and in keeping with the unambiguous provisions of the
Constitution bearing in mind that the No-Confidence Motion was validly passed as long ago as 21 December 2018,’” the PPP added.
This comes even as Government has stated clearly that the President and Cabinet would not be resigning and that the President will not set a date for elections and dissolve Parliament until he is advised by GECOM.
This advice may not be long in coming, as newly appointed GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh has scheduled a meeting with her six Commissioners for August 15 – the day after the High Court rules on the legal challenge against GECOM’s House-to-House Registration.