Cabinet will not resign, says Minister of Public Security and Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan.
He was at the time discussing the implications of the December 21, 2018 vote of no confidence with People’s Progressive Party (PPP) stalwart, Juan Edghill.
The Opposition had written to the President, requesting that he dissolve Parliament, have Cabinet resign, and have elections held by September 18, 2019.
Edghill said, during a radio show, that Cabinet must resign in accordance with the stipulations of the Constitution when a motion of no confidence is passed.
Article 106(6) states “The Cabinet, including the President, shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Edghill said, “When they [Cabinet] resign, they will have publicly acknowledged that they intend to comply with the rulings of the CCJ, and the Constitution. After their defeat, they become a caretaker Government. A caretaker Government means that the executive – the Cabinet – is disbanded.”
“So you have gone into what is called a caretaker government.” Edghill told Ramjattan.
The AFC leader, in response, said “On his… point that we have to resign, we are not going to resign. We are still in Government. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that indicates a formal resignation. That was gone through by the CCJ, and it was even gone through by the High Court judge.”
Edghill continued to implore Ramjattan: “Announce your resignation.”
“Announce what?” Ramjattan responded.
“Because the next article says notwithstanding that resignation – whatever it is – you continue in Government.”
The text in focus, Article 106(7), states that “… notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months.”
“Who will the President send his resignation into?” Ramjattan went on to ask, rhetorically.
“I could send in my resignation to the President, but then I stop becoming a minister that will have any powers whatsoever with a resignation letter.”
The Minister iterated that the Constitution does not specifically indicate a formal resignation.
“So it’s a kind of a legal fiction that is spoken about in that article. That is what it is because, right after that, you are still a minister performing the functions of a Government and Minister.
“So that is the problem with the Opposition. They seem not to understand that. That is also what happened in the Esther Perreira challenge.”
In 2001, the 1997 elections were vitiated by Justice Claudette Singh. In her consequential orders, the Government was declared a caretaker Government.
In response to this, then President Jagdeo had said, “It is business as usual.”
Government had continued with full powers, until the next election.
“The Government continued to be holding Cabinet meetings, holding its ministerial functions and all of that.” Ramjattan said.
“It’s all there in the Esther Perreira consequential orders… We have been doing as we feel is in accordance with the convention, now that the CCJ has ruled. We are certainly going to abide by that ruling.”
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