Hearing date set 7 days before constitutionally due elections deadline
No-confidence Motion appeals
Just mere days before the constitutional due March 19, 2019 elections deadline, the Court of Appeal is set to commence hearing of appeals filed against the High Court judgements on the No-confidence Motion.
The Full Bench of the Court of Appeal on Friday held a case management session following which dates were set for the hearing of appeals cases. The cases were heard by acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Justice Rishi Persaud and Justice Dawn Gregory.
On March 12, the court will commence hearing the appeals filed by Attorney General Basil Williams against acting Chief Justice Roxane George – judgements on the case relating to the 33 against 34 majority votes that was used to pass the No-confidence Motion on December 21, 2018 and on Christopher Ram’s application to validate the successful passage of the motion and have Government resign and call elections.
The Chief Justice on January 31, 2019 had upheld both cases, ruling that the no-confidence vote was validly passed and that Cabinet should have resigned. However, Williams in his appeals is claiming that the Chief Justice made an error in both of these rulings.
As such, the March 12 hearing is for consideration of submissions by the parties, which also includes the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo; Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland; and APNU representative Joseph Harmon.
On the other hand, the records of appeal in relation to the case filed by Government supporter, Compton Reid, who had unsuccessfully challenged the vote of former AFC parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud based on his dual citizen status, is not yet ready. But it is expected to be ready in time to be heard alongside the other appeal cases.
“Hopefully we can fit it in the timeframe so that that matter is not left out [the other hearings] because the issues are very related if not identical, and they were all heard and determined together [in the High Court] in any event and it would be ideal if we can get them to be heard again at the appellate stage,” Attorney Anil Nandlall, who is representing the Opposition Leader, explained to reporters.
However, these appeal cases will come up mere days before the March 19, constitutionally due elections deadline.
The December 21, 2018 passage of the No-confidence Motion gave effect to Articles 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution which states, respectively: “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” and “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.”
However, after weeks of what was described as a deliberate delay on its preparedness, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) last week informed President David Granger that it cannot hold elections before the constitutional deadline.
This comes almost two months after Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, along with stakeholders, has been calling on President Granger to set a date for General and Regional Elections.
GECOM had previously claimed that it can only commence preparations for elections after a date is set by the President.
Earlier this week, President Granger, without setting a date for the hosting of polls, ordered GECOM to prepare for elections while also asking for consultations with the elections body as well as with the Opposition Leader on the way forward.
However, Jagdeo has since indicated that he would only meet with the Head of State if a date for elections is set on the agenda. Minister of State Joseph Harmon in a letter to the Opposition Leader, on behalf of the President, said the agenda of the meeting fixed for Wednesday coming includes matters relating to “the National Assembly’s constitutional role in the current situation” and “the Guyana Elections Commission’s readiness and requirement for funding to enable it to conduct General and Regional Elections.”