The People’s Progressive Party has released its proposals for consequential orders, in which it submitted that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) order elections to be held by September 18, 2019 and urges the regional Court to protect Guyana from Constitutional abuse.
The regional Court is expected to hand down its consequential orders on Friday. On Wednesday, the Opposition released to the media its full submissions on how it believes the country should proceed now that it is confirmed that the Government was defeated by a No-Confidence Motion last year.
In the submission, the Opposition noted that the Court should order that the Cabinet, including the President, should have resigned but remain in office to hold elections within three months of June 18, when the CCJ had ruled that the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion was valid.
The Opposition also suggested that an order should be given for the President to announce a date for General and Regional Elections, no later than September 18, 2019. This, it was noted, is because the next general election is due in the first half of 2020.
Hence, the effect of the consequential orders which the Attorney General and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are seeking would render the vote of no-confidence against the coalition entirely “ineffective and otiose”.
“The vote of no-confidence, if given effect to, would have shortened the term of office of the Government by at least one year, the effect of the consequential order which they seek would be to permit the Government to serve out its full five-year term. This Honourable Court is urged not to sanction such a cynical and indeed transparent attempt to subvert the Constitution,” the Opposition argued in its submission.
Furthermore, the Opposition said the regional Court should order that the current list of electors be used for the upcoming elections. The Opposition submitted that had there been elections back in March after the December passage of the motion, then the current list would have been used.
Importantly, the parliamentary Opposition pointed out that there are no provisions in the law to postpone the hosting of polls to conduct House-to-House registration. The party detailed exactly why the October 31, 2018 list can still be used. The submissions also asked for liberty to apply.
On the matter of the appointment of a new GECOM Chairman, the Opposition expressed concern that the Government may try to “draw out” the process of appointing a new Chairman. As such, it asked the Court to order the President appoint a Chairman within three days of being given a final list of six nominees not unacceptable to the President, arising out of consultations between the two sides.
And noting that the Court challenges would have caused Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and PPP Executive Secretary Zulficar Mustapha to incur great expenses on their part, the Opposition requested that the Court award costs.
The Government had previously released the proposals it submitted for consequential orders to the CCJ, in which it once again raised questions about the Court’s jurisdiction by claiming that the CCJ cannot set an election date.
According to the consequential order proposals, which were released by the Attorney General’s chambers, the opposing parties are seeking consequential orders – like compelling the Government to hold elections in the three months it should have done in the first place—that are “contrary” to legal principles.
The Government side claimed that the CCJ “has no jurisdiction to set the date for elections nor to dissolve Parliament”. This is even though President David Granger has failed to do either, in keeping with the constitutional provisions.
The Government also claimed in its proposals that “there is no evidence that the President has failed to comply with his duties. Consequentially, there is no basis to order that the President act on his constitutional duty to set a date for elections or to dissolve Parliament”.
Thus, the Government is seeking an order that allows the President, Prime Minister, Ministers, and Cabinet to remain in office until a President is sworn in after elections are held. The Attorney General cited Article 106 (7) to defend this position.
However, Article 106 (6 and 7) says “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 that “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”.