In March, the Court of Appeal ruled by a 2:1 majority that 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the No-confidence Motion brought against the Government on December 21.
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 third appellate judge, Justice Rishi Persaud had dismissed the appeal and conferred with the ruling of the High Court.
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Adrian Saunders on Friday indicated that the regional court believes that Guyana’s National Assembly requires an absolute majority of its 65 members to pass a no-confidence motion, but the issue is deciding on the formula.
“No one is doubting that an absolute majority is required in this case,” said Saunders during final submissions on Friday, the last day of oral arguments on the consolidated appeals of the December 21 no-confidence motion. Charrandass Persaud, then a government parliamentarian crossed the floor to give the opposition PPP the 33 the votes they thoiught were needed to bring the government down.
Justice Saunders added that “the only issue is: what constitutes an absolute majority?” even as he declined to entertain further arguments on that point.
The CCJ President said the two questions facing the regional court surrounds what is an absolute majority of 65; whether that requires dividing by two and adding one, as had been the case in the Solomon Islands, or a determination of what's the majority of an uneven number.
The other related matters being heard by the CCJ include a constitutional appeal brought by Mr. Zulfikar Mustapha who alleges that the circumstances of the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission breaches aspects of the Constitution. Mr. Mustapha was unsuccessful in both the High Court and Court of Appeal and has appealed to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Another disputed issue is whether one of the members who voted in favour of the motion, Mr. Charrandas Persaud, who crossed the floor to vote with the opposition, was ineligible to vote because he held dual citizenship.
When the matter came before the Chief Justice in the Guyana High Court, the Chief Justice ruled that only 33 votes were required. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeal, it was held that 34 votes were required. The matter is now before the CCJ for final determination.
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