GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Friday called on President David Granger to name the date for fresh regional and general elections in Guyana after the High Court ruled Thursday that the December 21 motion of no confidence against his administration was valid.
“Right now there is a valid decision of the court which says that the government has fallen and elections have to be held within 90 days,” Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, told a news conference.
“The (acting) Chief Justice’s ruling was welcomed and I think what this has done now it has taken away any excuse from the government t further delay the preparations for and the holding of elections within the prescribed period, which is 90 days starting from the date of the successful passage of the motion of no confidence,” Jagdeo said.
Given the fact that both the Legislature and the High Court have “spoken definitively” regarding the passage of the motion, which he piloted last month, Jagdeo said, “We expect this government to comply with the (acting) Chief Justice’s ruling and immediately start preparations for the general elections.”
He stated: “We expect the President to make an announcement that he respects the Constitution of Guyana and not doing so would show gross disrespect for our constitution. The President needs to speak now and name the date for elections.”
Jagdeo said that president Granger should also direct the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) “to start the preparations because it seems as though GECOM, although it is not required to do so, is an independent body, is part of the delaying plot hatched by this government to avoid early elections”.
In a brief statement on Thursday night, the three and a half year-old government said it intended to challenge all the way to the country’s “highest court of appeal’ the ruling of acting Chief Justice Roxanne George- Wiltshire that the motion of no confidence passed is valid.
Guyana’s highest court is the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“The ruling is not in favour of the Government’s position with regard to the vote on December 21st 2018 however due process continues and the Government will file an appeal in the Court of Appeal. The government continues to believe that the full adjudication of this issue is in the national interest,” the statement said.
Justice George-Wiltshire had last month heard the arguments in the cases “Compton Reid vs The Attorney General, Persaud and The Speaker of the National Assembly; Christopher Ram vs The Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney General vs The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Opposition Leader.
The matters arose after the then government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud, who holds both Guyanese and Canadian citizenship voted with the PPP in the 65-member National Assembly where the coalition government had previously enjoyed a slender one seat majority.
In her near four hour ruling, Justice George-Wiltshire also said that anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 of the Guyana Constitution “should not and could not be” a member of the Guyana Parliament.
Jagdeo told reporters that the Opposition Chief whip, Gail Teixeira, who also holds Guyanese and Canadian citizenship had indicated she is prepared to give up her Canadian citizenship in order to continue to function as a legislator.
He said he had not asked for her position on the issue, but had telephoned her in Canada where she is attending a fund-raising event on behalf of the party when she made the disclosure.
“I spoke with Gail Teixeira and she said to me she is prepared to give up her Canadian citizenship so clearly this ruling has implications for the government and the ministers,” Jagdeo said, adding that Teixeira had “been thinking” about doing so for a while
Jagdeo said that the opposition party would not now be prepared to hold talks with the government on the way forward following the High Court ruling, accusing it is seeking to delay the polls.
He made reference to the government statement which he said had indicated that “until the matter is concluded at the highest court of appeal the status quo remains and the business of government continues as usual”.
“We are not going to participate in another exercise that is PR (public relations) stunt,” he told reporters. – CMC