President claims AG “examining calls” for Cabinet’s resignation, dissolution of Parliament

first_imgOpposition Leader, Bharrat JagdeoPresident David GrangerOpposition Leader demands Constitutional compliance…even though CCJ affirmed Art 106 last monthThe letter written by President David GrangerIn response to a letter that Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo penned demanding that the President and Cabinet resign and Parliament be dissolved – as is constitutionally required when a No-Confidence Motion is passed against Government, President David Granger has responded by saying that his Attorney General is examining “the requests”.While the President has termed the demand as a “request” the Article 106 (6) of Constitution of Guyana 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”.In a letter written and signed by caretaker President Granger dated July 26, he acknowledged the Opposition Leader’s letter from July 20, in which he demanded the resignation of the President and Cabinet, the dissolution of Parliament, and the naming of an election date.Despite the unambiguity of the Constitution, the President stated in the letter that these “requests” were being examined by Attorney General Basil Williams, “in light of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the relevant rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice”.A No-Confidence Motion was passed against the Granger-led Government on December 21, 2018. However, elections were not held – as was constitutionally required. Instead, Government went to court unsuccessfully arguing that the NCM was not validly passed. The CCJ, having made its final ruling on June 18, 2019, now paves way for General and Regional Elections in September.In his letter, Jagdeo had reminded the President that since July 12, 2019, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) delivered its consequential orders in the matters of Zulkficar Mustapha versus the AG and others, Christopher Ram versus the AG and others, Bharrat Jagdeo versus the AG and others and Charandass Persaud versus Compton Reid and others.He had 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.Jagdeo had reminded the President that 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.According to Justice Saunders when he read the ruling, there was no need for the Court to gloss over the provisions of Article 106 (6 and 7), but it is, in fact, the responsibility of the constitutional actors to be faithful to the rule of law and operate within parameters of the Constitution.“Upon the passage of a vote of no-confidence, the Article requires the resignation of the Cabinet including the President. The Article goes on to state, among other things, that notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and that an election shall be held 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”.Further, the CCJ President had noted that with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) also responsible for the conduct that elections, it therefore means that the elections body “too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution”.He went on to point out that elections should have been held on March 21, 2019 following the December passage of the Opposition-sponsored motion, but that process was on “pause” pending the legal proceedings.That process, he added however, was no longer on pause following the Court’s June 18, 2019 ruling, which upheld the validity of the NCM and, thus, triggering the need for fresh elections.This means that General and Regional Elections would have to be held on or before September 18, 2019, to be consistent with the three-month constitutional deadline. Dissolving Parliament is a necessary prerequisite to holding General and Regional Elections.Legal fictionAlthough Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana clearly states that the President and Cabinet must resign after a no-confidence vote, Vice President and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan last week claimed that this provision is a “legal fiction”.He made this pronouncement during an appearance on radio programme ‘Hot Seat’, hosted by broadcaster Stan Gouveia, alongside People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament Bishop Juan Edghill.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 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”.last_img

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