Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Thursday ruled that “The ruling of the Speaker that the no-confidence debated in the National Assembly on December 21st, 2018 was carried by a vote of a majority of all of the elected members of the National Assembly is thus lawful and valid, being in accordance with the requirements” of Guyana’s Constitution.
The Chief Justice in her ruling, said the absolute majority in Guyana’s 65-member National Assembly is 33 and so the motion was passed by the required number of votes. She explained that an absolute majority refers to all of the parliamentarians, while a simple majority refers to those present and voting.
She observed that the Vanuatu case was not applicable because that Parliament has an even number of 52 and so an absolute majority would be 50 percent plus 1.
In relation to the application by Christopher Ram, she said the president and cabinet should have resigned immediately and remain in office until the next elections as required by the constitution under the circumstances. The 90-day period expires on March 19.
Attorney General Basil Williams applied for a stay of the judgement and a conservatory order for the government to remain in office until the appeals are heard before the Caribbean Court of Justice.
However, the Chief Justice advised that an appeal be filed as there could not be a stay and conservatory order into the answers sought. She said her written judgements would be available on Wednesday to allow the lawyers to file appeals.
The Chief Justice noted that while it was unconstitutional to have dual citizens dual sit in the National Assembly, at the same time, the proceedings of the National Assembly were not invalidated as a result of ineligible persons being parliamentarians.
Hence, the ballot cast by the then government parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud, a Guyanese-Canadian, who voted in favour of the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion could not be invalidated.
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