With the decision of the Court of Appeal on the Government’s challenge to the no-confidence motion unlikely to come before Thursday’s March 21 constitutional deadline, it is expected that the judiciary will provide some legal light on the way forward for the nation.
In his weekly blog, Attorney-at-Law, (S.C) Ralph Ramkarran expressed his views on the role of the judiciary, at a time when the nation faces what is being seen as an impending constitutional crisis.
According to Ramkarran, the Court ought not to ignore the impending crisis nor avoid dealing with the consequences of the failure of the Government to call elections in accordance with the Constitution and the decision of the High Court.
Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George had ruled that the no-confidence vote cast on December 21, 2018 by expelled Member of Parliament, Charrandass Persaud, is irreversible.
She upheld the argument that the 33-32 vote is a majority of all the elected (65) members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.
Quoting the constitution, Justice George noted that “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.”
With no agreement between the Government and Opposition as it relates to an extension of the current Government’s time in office, politicians have been looking to the Court for a solution.
However, Ramkarran, a former Speaker of the National Assembly noted while the Court has been tasked with providing clarity on constitutional matters related to the no-confidence cases, it should offer guidance as it relates to the country’s future.
As such the Political Commentator and the leader of the recently formed party, A New and United Guyana, (ANUG) said that should the ruling of the CJ be upheld at the Appeal Court, then the Court must acknowledge the possibility of extending the life of the National Assembly by a two-third majority.
“But it [the Appeal Court] ought not to merely acknowledge that possibility and wash its hands of the matter by ignoring the unlikelihood of it happening. It will therefore need to go further and express its view as to the consequences of the failure of achieving that objective.
“What happens next? If the Court of Appeal does not wish to abandon the nation to constitutional darkness, as some would say is its duty, it would have to give us the answer and appropriate guidance,” he added.
Ramkarran stressed that if the Court of Appeal gives its decision after March 22, it will be doing so in the circumstances outlined above, where the Government no longer has any legal status.
“There would be a huge gap in its decision if it does not address the absence of lawful, governmental, authority in Guyana. If the Court is of the view that, as a result of the Government’s failure to hold elections within the stipulated time, it is holding office illegally, it must say so boldly and fearlessly.
It cannot merely uphold the decision of the Chief Justice (ag), if it feels that her decision is sound, and walk away from the most serious constitutional crisis facing Guyana since its life began as an Independent nation in 1966.”
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