CCJ upholds Presidential limit

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CCJ President, Sir Dennis Byron

…nixes Jagdeo third term bid

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) by a 6-1 majority upheld the constitutional amendment on term limits for Presidential Candidates in Guyana and overturned the decisions of the Guyana Courts.

In handing down the land mark in decision on Tuesday morning, CCJ President, Sir Dennis Byron said that Cedric Richardson was misguided in law, when he took the decision to challenge the amendments made to Article 90 of the Constitution that were enacted in 2000 following a bipartisan Constitutional Reform Process.

A 6-1 majority in the CCJ agreed that Articles One and Nine of the Constitution could be altered by implication.

Article 1 states that “Guyana is an indivisible, secular, democratic, sovereign state in the course of transition from capitalism to socialism and shall be known as the Co-operative Republic of Guyana” and Article 9, states that “Sovereignty belongs to the people, who exercise it through their representatives and the democratic organs established by or under this Constitution.

The CCJ President in making the ruling stated clearly that the amendments were never unconstitutional while noting that Guyana remains a democratic sovereign state.

It therefore means with the ruling in effect, former President Bharrat Jagdeo cannot run for a third term in office.

It was just before the 2015 General and Regional Elections, when, Richardson, a resident of Georgetown, challenged the amendments made to Article 90 of the Constitution, and many had drawn the concluded that the constitutional challenge filed by Richardson was engineered by Jagdeo.

Former Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang had in July 2015 ruled in favour of Richardson which in effect prompted the Attorney General Basil Williams and former Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman, the named parties, to appeal against the ruling. Justice Chang had said Article No.17 of 2001 is without legal effect because it does not comply with other articles of the constitution dealing with repugnancy, democratic society and sovereignty belonging to the people which require a referendum for any alteration.

Chang had reasoned that Article 1 and 9 underpin the republican commitment to the fundamental concept of popular sovereignty or imperium populi thereby safeguarding against elective despotism by the elected representatives of the people.

The Court of Appeal by a two-one majority in February, 2017 upheld Chang’s ruling that the presidential term limit is unconstitutional and void. Now retired Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Carl Singh, and Justice BS Roy upheld the High Court ruling handed down by former Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang’s, while then Chief Justice (ag) now Chancellor (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards disagreed.