STAY THE JUDGEMENT

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Attorney General Basil Williams

…AG files applications to stay CJ’s judgement on confidence motion
…also seeking conservatory order to preserve status quo of Cabinet

IN another legal bid to reel back the effects of the December 21 Vote of No-Confidence against the government, Attorney General Basil Williams applied to the Court of Appeal for an interim stay to halt the decision of the High Court, and to preserve the status quo of the Cabinet.

The Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George Wiltshire on January 31, 2019, ruled that the No-Confidence Motion was validly passed with the Opposition securing a majority (33) over the government (32). Justice George-Wiltshire had also ruled that with the government being defeated, the Cabinet, including the President, ought to have resigned with immediate effect. She handed down the judgements in the cases– The Attorney General v The Speaker and Leader of the Opposition, and Christopher Ram v The Attorney General and the Opposition Leader.

The Attorney General has filed appeals in both cases, however, in the interim he is asking the Appellate Court to issue an order for an interim stay of the effect of the judgements and orders of the Chief Justice, and a conservatory order, preserving the status quo ante of the Cabinet. He wants the President, Cabinet and all ministers of the government to remain in office until the hearing and determination of the appeal in the matter.

In the Affidavit in support of the summons in the case of the Attorney General v The Speaker and Leader of the Opposition, State Counsel Raeanna Clarke swore to the affidavit.

Clarke said based on the advice of her lawyers, she believes that the Chief Justice erred and misdirected herself in law when she ruled that the motion of no-confidence upon a division vote of 33:32 Members of the National Assembly was validly passed as the requisite majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly pursuant to Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.

The State Counsel told the court that the Chief Justice miscalculated the majority of all elected members of the National Assembly as required under Article 106(6) of the Constitution for the government to be defeated on a vote of no confidence. “In order for the government to be defeated on a vote of no- confidence, 34 or more votes of all the elected members in favour of the motion was required instead of 33,” she contended. According to her, an absolute majority is calculated as half plus one and where, mathematically, half of all the elected members of the Parliament would result in a fraction, the method of calculation of the absolute majority is that the fraction is rounded to the next whole number and 1 added to result in a number greater than half.
Clarke put forward similar arguments in her affidavit in the case of Christopher Ram v the Attorney General and Opposition Leader.

“It is contended that the effect of the ruling of the Chief Justice that Cabinet ceased with immediate effect on the night of the no-confidence motion on 21st December 2018, will mean that the government will be unable to introduce any financial bills for passage because, in accordance with Article 171 of the Constitution, these bills require the recommendation and or consent of the Cabinet signified by a minister. In these circumstances, the government will be unable to fund the preparation and holding of elections by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) if the effect of the ruling of the Chief Justice is not stayed as prayed for herein,” Clarke told the court.
She said it is contended that the status quo ante is that the President, Cabinet and Government will continue in their role and functions until the hearing and determination of the appeal herein.

State Counsel said she believes that the Conservatory order is necessary to preserve the status quo ante, as the period for the hearing and determination of the matter may expire before that time prescribed in Article 106 (7) of the constitution which requires that the President and government remain in office and hold elections within three (3) months.
The Appellate Court has not set dates for the hearing of any of the applications filed by the Attorney General and team. Guyana Chronicle understands that Compton Reid, through his attorneys Rex McKay, S.C, and Neil Boston, S.C, are expected to appeal the Chief Justice’s ruling in the dual citizenship case. Reid had challenged the validity of Charrandass Persaud’s vote in the National Assembly on the basis that he breached the constitution by having dual citizenship while being a Member of Parliament.