PSC urges GECOM to still be ready for elections

…calls for respect of Appeal Court’s ruling

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has called on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to continue its arrangements for the hosting of General and Regional Elections.
The PSC on Saturday in urging respect for the Court of Appeal’s decision on the no-confidence motions – which it ruled was not successfully passed – called on GECOM to continue its preparations for the holding of elections “whenever they become constitutionally due”.
The Appeal Court on Friday ruled that for a 33-seat majority Government to be voted out, 34 votes are required for a no-confidence motion to be validly passed even if one of its members voted against them. On December 21, 2018, the no-confidence motion, which was brought by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, was passed and certified by the Speaker of the National Assembly after the then Government Member of Parliament, Charrandas Persaud made a conscious decision and voted in favour of the motion.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the PSC added that as a consequence of the ruling of the Appellate Court, it calls upon “all of the political parties and their supporters and, indeed, the entire country to respect the decision of the Court”.
In a decision, which has been highly criticised, the Appeal Court judges in a 2:1 split decision ruled that a majority of 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the no-confidence motion brought against the Government last year.
The ruling means that the motion was not validly passed, and hence the coalition Administration was not toppled as a result of the events that occurred in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018 – when the minority Opposition had secured the crossover vote from Persaud.
Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George had, in January, upheld the December 21, 2018, passage of the no-confidence motion, ruling that in Guyana’s 65-member National Assembly, a majority is 33. This, however, was appealed by Attorney General Basil Williams.
While Justice Rishi Persaud on Friday dismissed the appeal and conferred with the ruling of the High Court, his colleague appellate judges allowed the State’s appeal. Both Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory opined that while 33 is the majority of the 65-member National Assembly, the successful passage of a no-confidence motion requires an “absolute majority” of 34, and not the “simple” majority of 33 that has been used to pass ordinary business in the House. The Opposition has since indicated that they will be moving to the Caribbean Court of Justice to further peruse the case.
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”.