Its understood that legal opinion prepared for the government is advising that a no-confidence motion in a 65 member House of Assembly can only be passed by a minimum of 34 votes or 50 percent of the House plus one.
The opinion has cited a number of precedents in Anguilla and Vanuatu as first cited by prominent Guyanese Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes who has raised an objection to the outcome of the motion on the basis that the Speaker's mathematical calculation was incorrect.
The opinion notes that a no-confidence motion is unlike the passage of any legislation that requires 33 votes. Hence, with the total number of votes being sixty five, 50 percent of the 65 votes is 32.5 rounded up to 33 plus another vote.
There are also other examples: The United Kingdom’s House of Commons applies the 50 plus 1 simple majority rule to pass a no-confidence motion against the government, while in Malta, another Commonwealth member state, an “absolute majority” of 35 of the 69 legislators is required to pass a no-confidence motion against the government despite the fact that half is exactly 34.5 persons.
At the United Nations General Assembly where there are 193 member states, 97 votes constitute an absolute majority although a precise half is 96.5 persons.
The opinion says House Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland can legitimately correct the vote. Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs has already formally transmitted the results of the vote on the no-confidence motion to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
The opinion also says the Court can legitimately hear a legal challenge to the results of the no-confidence motion.
The government is further expected to challenge the no-confidence motion on the grounds that now recalled government parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud is a Canadian citizen who actively exhibited such allegiance by travelling on his Canadian passport immediately following the vote.
Attorney General Basil Williams says the House Speaker should reverse the ruling because “Mr. Persaud by virtue of his Canadian citizenship is a person who by his own act was under an acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power and therefore disqualified to be elected a Member of the National Assembly of Guyana and had no legal right to vote as an elected Member of the National Assembly of Guyana.
The vote of “Yes” by Mr. Persaud in favour of the motion of no -confidence in the National Assembly on the 21st day of December, 2018 is null and void and cannot be counted as a vote of an elected member of the National Assembly,” says the Attorney General.
Meanwhile, the opposition People’s Progressive Party continues to insist that the government should resign and make way for elections in 90 days.
Should the Government's challenge to the outcome of the vore fails, Guyanese would most likely go back to the polls in general elections before the end of March, 2019. The no-confidence motion sponsored by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was passed on December 21, 2018 by 33 to 32 after then government lawmaker Charrandass Persaud broke ranks and voted with the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
According to Persaud, he voted with his conscience. In his prepared statement to the media he said “My stand has nothing to do with ‘crossing over’. I am not joining up with the PPPC. I want to clear my conscience. Too much wrong has been perpetrated against the people of this country, in too short a time, by this APNU/AFC government. There must be proper rules for them to play by when in high offices and the people must not be taken for granted,” he said, adding that the government has failed to improve Guyanese lives because if “too many square pegs in round holes”.
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