Opposition welcomes ruling upholding validity of no-confidence motion
…calls for Govt to respect constitution, resign with immediate effect
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday welcomed the ruling by acting Chief Justice Roxane George who upheld the validity of the No-confidence Motion against the coalition Government, saying this now paves the way for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to start preparation for the hosting of General and Regional Elections, which is constitutionally due in March.
In a video statement, Jagdeo said the Opposition People’s Progressive Party
(PPP) is extremely pleased with the High Court’s ruling. Justice George dismissed arguments by Government to invalidate the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-confidence Motion, which was premised on the basis of dual citizenship and need for a 34-vote majority to properly pass the motion.
According to the Opposition Leader, now that the Chief Justice has upheld the validity of the no-confidence resolution, and refuse to a stay the judgement as well as to refuse to issue a conservatory order for the Government to remain in office upon request of Attorney General Basil Williams, focus must be placed on the elections body.
“… the timeline remains valid and the clock keeps ticking… So now we need to
turn our attention to GECOM and force GECOM to act in accordance with the Constitution. And so in the next couple of days, even if it means legal action to force GECOM to start the preparations for elections,” he stated.
According to Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, Government should call elections within three months of the passage of a no-confidence motion. This means elections are to be held by March 19.
Jagdeo insisted that the Elections Commission can be ready for polls within the next 50 days or so.
“We believe the basis is there to have [elections] happen, having successfully come out of a Local Government Elections. They can easily do this but they’re unwilling to do this because of the Government sending signals to them that they should not do so. So we will have to put pressure on the machinery at GECOM and the Commission to proceed immediately with the preparations for elections,” he asserted.
Furthermore, the Opposition Leader said he hopes that members of civil society
and the international community, now that the Judiciary has spoken and that there is no stay of the decision, will ensure more strident calls are made for Government to respect the Constitution of Guyana.
Reflecting on the court’s ruling, Jagdeo posited that the country is now in a position where the Legislature has already spoken on the night of December 21, when 33 members voted in favour of the No-confidence Motion. This, he said, is validated in the Speaker of the House, Dr Barton Scotland’s declaration of the motion being carried, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaac’s issuance of a resolution to that effect, and the subsequent refusal of the Speaker to review the passage of the motion.
“So the Legislature was very clear about the passage of the No-confidence Motion, we were awaiting the Judiciary and now the Judiciary has spoken, clearly, that the No-confidence Motion has been passed and there is no stay of that decision. So right now the Government has to act in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution which states that the Cabinet and the Government shall resign upon the successful passage of the No-confidence Motion and it must also proceed in accordance with Article 106 (7) of the Constitution which is to hold elections in 90 days,” he contended.
Failing to and any other further procrastination in doing this, Jagdeo said, can led
to a constitutional crisis. This, he added, would mean the violation of the Constitution, which he said the country is already experiencing with Government’s refusal to resign and call elections.
GECOM, which successfully ran the Local Government Elections in November 2018, less than three months ago, is being blamed by Government for not being ready, but it is the President of Guyana who has to give a date for elections and not GECOM as being touted. The President of Guyana, according to the Constitution, has to dissolve Parliament and issue a date for elections.
Meanwhile, the Government in a statement on Thursday evening said that it notes and respects the rulings of Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George.
“The ruling is not in favour of the Government’s position with regard to the vote on December 21, 2018; however, due process continues and the Government will file an appeal in the Court of Appeal. The Government continues to believe that the full adjudication of this issue is in the national interest,” the statement said.