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In the wake of the No-Confidence Motion passed against it and the recent Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling validating that motion, the Government will receive no lifeline to legally extend its time in office from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
The party made this pellucid in a statement on Saturday, coming on the heels of suggestions from some and hope being expressed by Government Ministers that an arrangement could be reached between the Opposition and Government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the People’s Progressive Party wishes to reiterate its position that its Members of Parliament will not return to the National Assembly, pursuant to Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, to support any extension of time for the holding of General and Regional Elections,” the party said in its statement.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “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.”
Meanwhile, Article 106 (7) states: “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.”
A No-Confidence Motion was passed against the Government on December 21 of last year. However, elections were not held and there was no resignation. Instead, Government went to court, unsuccessfully arguing that the No-Confidence Motion was not validly passed.
The case reached the CCJ, where the regional court ruled against the Government but stopped short of issuing an order fixing an election date. Instead, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders had said that when the No-Confidence Motion was passed on December 21, 2019, Article 106 of the Constitution had immediately been activated.
But it was only recently that Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, who is also a lawyer by profession, described Articles 106 (6) and (7) of the Guyana Constitution as “legal fiction” when he was called out by PPP Member of Parliament Juan Edghill for not complying with its provisions, that is, for the Government to resign and have elections within three months.
“We’re not going to resign! We are not going to resign because we are still… there’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that indicates a formal resignation. That was gone through by the CCJ and it was even gone through by the High Court.”
“Announce what? Because the next Article says notwithstanding that resignation, whatever it is, we continue in Government. Who will the President send in his resignation to? I could send my resignation in to the President, but then I stop becoming a Minister that will have any powers whatsoever. So it’s a kind of a legal fiction that is spoken to in that Article.”
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo recently wrote President David Granger, demanding his resignation. In the letter, Jagdeo reminded the President that since July 12, 2019, the CCJ delivered its consequential orders on the matters of Zulkficar Mustapha v the AG and others, Christopher Ram v the AG and others, Bharrat Jagdeo v the AG and others and Charrandas Persaud v Compton Reid and others.
He listed several conditions for the President to accede to, including that the President and his Cabinet immediately resign and that the President issue a proclamation dissolving Parliament. He also called for the President to fix a date for the next general and regional elections, not beyond September 18, 2019.
The President subsequently responded to the letter by saying that his Attorney General, Basil Williams, was “examining” these requests.