— even if CCJ rules against his third term bid
PEOPLE’S Progressive Party (PPP) Bharrat Jagdeo on Saturday said whatever the outcome of the ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the presidential term limit case, he will remain general secretary, and play a formal part in the next PPP government.
“Unlike the 2011-2015 period, where I played no formal part in the PPP administration, I intend to be a formal part of the next PPP government as we resume the implementation of plans to build a better country of which all our people can feel proud,” Jagdeo said.
The CCJ will next Tuesday hand down its decision on whether Guyana’s presidential term limit is unconstitutional.
In a statement to the media, Jagdeo said, “Multitudes of supporters of the PPP/C, and even across the political divide, have made contact with me. Many concerns were raised, including the public statements of those in government in respect of a particular outcome.
“As a result, I am moved to publicly assure that whatever the ruling is, I am, and will remain, the general secretary of the PPP.”
Jagdeo, a former president who also serves as leader of the opposition, said he will continue to “spearhead the party’s struggle for a better life for all Guyanese.”
He said emphasis will also be placed on the working-class people, the poor and under-privileged, while striving for racial and national unity. Moreover, Jagdeo said every effort will be made to secure victory at the upcoming Local Government Elections along with Regional and National Elections.
POLICY, NOT PERSONALITY
“Ours is a party not built on personalities but on policies, all designed to create a better life for our people, and forge racial, ethnic and class unity. I remain committed to these policies and causes, and will continue to struggle with the party to achieve them,” the former president said while noting that he is humbled by the “overwhelming confidence” placed in him by citizens.
According to the CCJ’s website, the judgment will be delivered at 10:00hrs at the court’s headquarters in Trinidad and Tobago. Tuesday’s judgment will determine whether the Court of Appeal’s decision that an Act passed by the government to amended Article 90 of the Constitution of Guyana by introducing new criteria for eligibility to run for the office of President of the Republic, indirectly breached Articles 1 and 9 of the Constitution.
Tuesday’s ruling on the term limit will also determine if Jagdeo, who served two terms as president, will be allowed to run for a third term in office.
The Court of Appeal last year granted leave to Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, and former Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman to appeal to the CCJ in the term-limit case. Trotman has since pulled out of the appeal.
Just before the May 2015 General and Regional Elections, Cedric Richardson, a resident of Georgetown, challenged the amendments made to Article 90 of the Constitution that were enacted in 2000, following a bipartisan Constitutional Reform Process.
Richardson is contending that the term limit infringes Articles 1 and 9 of the Constitution, wherein 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,” while 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.”
RULE IN FAVOUR
Justice Ian Chang had, in July 2015, ruled in Richardson’s favour, a ruling which, in effect, prompted both the Attorney General and Speaker of the National Assembly, the named parties, to appeal against it.
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 Articles 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.
Chang had determined that the two-term limit of presidents dilutes the rights of citizens to elect the person they wish to govern their country, regardless of the number of times they wish that person to be head of state.
In his affidavit, Richardson had argued that the purported alteration of the Constitution by Act 17 of 2001 would curtail or delimit the electorate’s choice of presidential candidate by rendering ineligible for the candidature any person who has been re-elected once as president eg, Former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
The Court of Appeal, by a two-one majority, in February 2017, upheld the High Court 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, while then Chief Justice (ag) now Chancellor (ag), Yonette Cummings-Edwards, disagreed.
Back in March 2018, attorneys representing the Attorney-General of Guyana appeared before the full bench of the CCJ to present arguments as to why the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the case of the AG and Raphael Trotman against Cedric Richardson on the presidential term limit should be overturned.