Home Letters Guyanese must unite and stop APNU/AFC bullyish behaviour
Overwhelming precedence in the Guyana Legislature (Parliament), provides evidence of the understanding, acceptance and practice regarding how the term “majority” has been applied and used for decades. Legitimate expectations of likewise application are, therefore, expected by all Guyanese and concerned stakeholders in the case of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM), which has been brought to the forefront of judicial considerations, review and rulings.
The term “majority” is used 15 times in Guyana’s Constitution – Chapter 1:01, without any qualifying measures being described by the term “absolute”. It is, therefore, a consensual acceptance of our columnists, and by most Guyanese citizens, that where such meaning is implicitly conferred in the Constitution, it is represented by the actual percentage of persons who have to be voting as a part of the specific requirement or decision.
In such instances, the contents of the proviso to Section 164 (2) (b), includes an apt example where it states: “(a) and is supported at the final voting in the Assembly by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the elected members of the Assembly it shall not be necessary to submit the Bill to the vote of the electors”. It is the accepted understanding that the provided numbers where stated in the Constitution define the applicable consideration.
The use of the “absolute” qualifying criteria in the NCM matter by two of the learned Appeal Court judges, appears to have been implicitly applied in arriving at their recent Appeal Court decisions, which seems to run counter to foregoing approach. Although the Opposition will have to accept the surprising ruling and seek redress at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), justice does not appear to have been done.
There is no doubt that the rulings are irrational to the general public, and further confounds previous decisions made on 33 greater than 32 principles, including the decision to establish a Government. The situation creates a further conundrum regarding what situation the Speaker of the Legislature would be required to implicitly apply, where there are no specific qualifying numbers for votes.
It is indeed sad and difficult for Guyanese to accept the recent decision and the implied disrespect of the Appeal Court to the ruling made by Chief Justice (Ag) Roxanne George. The fact that the Appellate Judge Rishi Persaud dissented and endorsed the Chief Justice’s “ruling”, adds to the distressing situation and justifies the decision of the Opposition to move to the CCJ.
However, the interpretation of two other Judges Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory was reflected in their decision to vote against the passing of the NCM, which was passed in the National Assembly with a clear majority when 33 members voted for the motion and 32 voted against. The Speaker ruled that the motion was passed and on the night of December 21, 2018, the then Prime Minister and the then President accepted that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government has fallen.
From an examination of the basis on which the number of parliamentary representatives is decided by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), it is established that each parliamentarian represents a specific number of citizens. In context, when a vote is taken on behalf of a representative number of citizens by parliamentary representatives, 33 will always be greater than 32 when is reflected accumulatively. This argument substantively mitigates against the issue of 34 votes is a majority, and the two ‘supposed to be’ imminent judges ruling based on other extraneous consideration is a serious matter that will further divide our nation.
The CCJ is now tasked with the responsibility to make the decision which takes into consideration all relevant factors, with non-partisan consideration and reflective of applied precedence within the meaning of the law for Guyana’s jurisprudence. The context must ensure that justice is done within the meaning of the law, but with the respect of all the Guyanese people. Applicable to the foregoing purports to ensure that we get free and fair elections earliest. The CCJ is asked to uphold the NCM vote contrary to the two unpopular Appeal Court decision for in the eyes of the public, it cannot be denied that the NCM vote is valid and it is highly anticipated that the CCJ will do what is right.
It must be noted that the existing Voters’ List is valid until April 30, 2019, and the list must be used to hold the constitutionally required General and Regional Elections. Since the mandate of GECOM presumes its purpose and readiness to conduct elections at short notice, the public announcement that the organisation will be proceeding with house-to-house registration is presumptions and contemptuous. It must be clear that the court, as the guardian of the Constitution, must grant effective orders which must ensure compliance with the Constitution.
The massive countrywide protest that took place in Guyana on March 22, 2019, is a clear indication that things are not going to be usual. It is of note that the Government now wants things to go back to normalcy, when they did everything abnormal following the rulings of the Speaker and the Chief Justice. It should not be allowed as we await the decisions of the CCJ.
The People’s Progressive Party has demonstrated genuine leadership and harnessed strong and positive support of several civil and fair-minded organisations who are fully preparing to struggle for immediate free and fair elections. Guyanese must unite and stop the current APNU/AFC extant bullyish behaviour.