Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, has formally written to the President, with several requests for Government in the approaching period.
In a letter dated July 20, 2019, Jagdeo reminded of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)’s Consequential Orders based on its decisions rendered on June 18, 2019, in the matters of Zulfikar Mustapha v AG and Others, Christopher Ram v AG et al, Bharrat Jagdeo v AG et al, and Charrandass Persaud v Compton Reid et al.
The Opposition Leader noted a key aspect of the Orders, that the provisions of Article 106 become immediately engaged following the passage of a No Confidence Motion.
Last week, Jagdeo had said, during a press conference, that he would write the President on the resignation but that he didn’t want to frustrate the good faith with which discussions were – and are still – being held on the informal nomination process for the list from which the President will select the new Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman.
He has now requested that Cabinet resigns, as the Court, in its orders, stated “Upon the passage of a vote of no confidence, the Article requires the resignation of the Cabinet including the President”.
There are several contentions with this on the side of the Government. Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence, had warned that the state of the country would be in trouble if the Cabinet resigns. That’s important to note since, due to House-to-House, there will likely be no elections for several months.
The Opposition’s letter went on to state, “In accordance with the extraordinarily clear language of the CCJ… I hereby request that… Your Excellency issue a proclamation, dissolving the Parliament of Guyana”.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, has said that there is no restriction on the meeting of the National Assembly, since the body has not been dissolved.
Jagdeo had said last week that no Bills should be passed at this time, but that has been disregarded by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams.
At present, Government is pushing forward with a move to have two Bills tabled and passed in the National Assembly. They are, according to the Extraordinary Gazettes of July 8, 2019, Bill No. 10 of 2019, the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill 2019; and Bill No. 11 of 2019, the Restorative Justice Bill 2019.
Government had also announced its intention to make an amendment to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Control Act, with the aim of removing custodial sentences for the possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, told Kaieteur News yesterday that a date has not yet set for the next sitting of the National Assembly.
Finally, the Opposition Leader’s letter to the President requests that he “fix a date for the next General and Regional Elections to be held, which date must not be beyond 18th day of September 2019.”
Former Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, had also written to GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, requesting that election preparations be started immediately.
Jagdeo has contended that, by acting in accordance with the Order of (ret’d) Justice James Patterson, whose appointment was ruled as flawed and unconstitutional, Lowenfield is acting in contempt of the Court.
According to Jagdeo, GECOM’s lawyer, Excellence Dazzell, had warned the Commission against embarking on House-to-House registration. She reportedly said that it could contravene the CCJ’s judgment on the No Confidence Motion of December 21, 2018.
By all indications, the timeline Jagdeo set out is not likely to be adhered to, since GECOM started House-to-House Registration yesterday. That process will take six to nine months, and could see elections being held by next year.
Even then, the House-to-House process is being threatened by a boycott as well as a coming injunction, by the Opposition.
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