CCJ to hear Guyana no-confidence appeal April 10

A consolidated appeal seeking to bring final resolution to a constitutional crisis caused by the passage of a no-confidence motion in Guyana's National Assembly, last December, will be heard by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on April 10.

A three-member panel comprising of CCJ President Adrian Saunders and Judges Jacob Wit and David Hayton set the date during a case management conference on the appeal at the CCJ's headquarters at Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, this morning. 

During the hearing, the judges granted leave for three appeals over the no-confidence motion to be consolidated and heard urgently. 

"The Court is concerned and duty bound to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution of Guyana," Saunders said. 

The case centres around the no-confidence motion in the coalition government led by President David Granger, which was passed by the 65 member assembly by a slim 33 to 32 majority on December 21, last year. The motion succeeded as former Government MP Charrandas Persaud controversially voted along with Opposition MPs based on moral grounds. 

Following the motion, which effectively forced the Cabinet to resign and fresh elections to be held, Guyana's Attorney General Basil Williams filed a High Court action against Opposition Leader Bharrat

Jagdeo and Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, to determine if the motion was lawfully passed.

Persaud also filed an action challenging a subsequent decision to disqualify him as he holds Canadian citizenship. 

Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wilshire weighed in on the issue first and ruled that the motion was correct passed although Persaud was illegally sitting as an MP due to his dual citizenship. 

On March 22, the Court of Appeal overturned the judgement as Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Appellate Judge Dawn Gregory ruled that an absolute majority of 34 votes was required to pass the no-confidence motion. 

Appellate Judge Rishi Persaud delivered a dissenting judgement in which he agreed with George-Wilshire's previous judgement. 

The appeal is being heard by the CCJ as Guyana is one of the few regional countries which have replaced the United Kingdom-based Privy Council as their final appellate court. 

Jagdeo is being represented by a team of attorneys including Douglas Mendes, SC, and include Devesh Maharaj and Kandace Bharath. 

While the case is being determined, the Court will also weigh in on another Guyanese case in which Opposition MP Zulfinkar Mustapha is challenging Granger's decision to appoint Reverand Justice James Patterson as chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission in October 2017. 

The appeals have to be determined in an around the same times as, if successful in the appeal, a new chairman would have to be appointed to facilitate fresh general elections. 

- by Derek Achong

 

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