Our Constitution, like that of any other country, is the supreme law and it not only provides the main governing laws in broad terms, which all other laws must be in consistency with, but it also provides vital checks and balances for those who are in authority to govern our country. In addition, the Constitution safeguards our principle and important rights and entitlements as citizens from each other and from our Government.
Therefore, it is this Constitution which gives us the power through our elected representatives in the National Assembly to ‘divorce’ an elected Government and put in motion the electoral processes to elect a new Government. The coalition has committed numerous atrocities against the Guyanese public to warrant this ‘divorce’. This ‘divorce’ takes the form of a vote of confidence, commonly called a vote of no-confidence since it will be ridiculous to assume that the Opposition will vote in favour of the Government. This is exactly what took place on the night of December 21, 2018.
The Revised Constitution of 2001 gave us this power through Article 106 of our Constitution and its intent or interpretation is quite clear and unambiguous. Article 106 (6) of our Constitution unambiguously states that “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”. On December 21, 2018, all the elected members voted on the No-Confidence Motion and 33 of the elected members voted in favour of that motion. The Constitution makes it clear that 65 members constitute the National Assembly. That is crystal clear and conclusive. Therefore, when the foregoing Article speaks about a “majority”, it is in respect of these 65 members.
The Caribbean Court of Justice’s President, Adrian Saunders, submitted that the main issue is to determine what constitutes an “absolute majority” albeit that the term is not used in our Constitution. If the CCJ wants to differentiate this “majority” with the other majority needed to pass bills in Parliament and use terms such as “absolute” and “simple” majority in the process, then it is also clear that the Constitution itself provides the acid test for this differentiation. The main ingredient for this differentiation is the “vote of all elected members”. In case of the vote of confidence on December 21, 2018, all the elected members were, in fact, present and voted. The result is a majority of 33 against 32 of the elected members in the 65-member National Assembly. Therefore, there is a declaration that 33 votes of the members of the National Assembly constitute a “majority” of all the members of the National Assembly within the meaning of Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana.
Chief Justice George in her ruling on January 31 was absolutely correct when she ruled that, “In our 65-member National Assembly a majority of all elected members, in accordance with the principle of ‘one over all rivals combine’, is the thirty-three (33) members”. On December 21, 2018, turn and twist as it may, the “absolute” and the “simple” majority became indistinguishable since all the elected members were present and voted and in our odd number National Assembly no number of varied mathematical computations can negate this fact.
I am confident that the CCJ will rule in favour of 33 and not the concocted 34 which can never be applicable to Guyana’s Constitution!