WITH reference to the article titled, “PPP support for term limits has not changed-Ramotar” (SN, February 27, 2017), attorney-at-law Ralph Ramkarran is quoted as saying:
“If the Attorney-General does not succeed in the CCJ [Caribbean Court of Justice], the Government will have to do what it needs to: Hold a referendum.”Article 164, ‘Procedure for altering this Constitution’, expressly allows for Article 90, ‘Qualifications for election’ to be the President to be altered “by the vote of not less than two-thirds of all the elected members of the Assembly.”
The Guyana Constitution is the nation’s supreme law, and where it permits or commands, it must be respected. I am strongly convinced that the interpretation made by retired Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang that the altering of Article 90 has to be determined by a referendum is skewed. His failure to factor in that semicolon at the end of Article 164, subparagraph 2 (a) in determining his ruling is responsible for the confusion we have today.
We have to go back to the drawing board, and the case presented to the CCJ must reflect what Article 164 expressly says and permits us to do by way of the electors (i.e. voters) and the elected members of the National Assembly.
This matter is not only for lawyers, but also those who draft laws, conventions, charters and au fait with the English Language, among others, should be equally speaking to it. This is a very critical issue that implications for this nation and must be left to a few. We are talking about our Constitution and going to the CCJ; and this nation cannot afford to present any wishy- washy arguments on this supreme instrument as would obtain in the society. The integrity of the Constitution and National Assembly, and the intelligence of the people are at stake.