GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday January 6, 2019 – Guyana’s Attorney General Basil Williams yesterday filed a petition in the Court of Appeal to reverse the ruling of acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire that the no-confidence vote which the coalition government lost last December is valid and that elections should be held.
The government last month went to court to challenge the legality of the December 21, 2018 vote in the National Assembly, after one of its backbenchers, Charrandass Persaud, sided with the opposition People’s National Party (PNP) to allow the motion to pass 33-32. The coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) lost the first round in its legal battle, with the acting Chief Justice’s January 31 ruling that the vote stands.
According to a release from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the grounds of appeal filed yesterday with the Court of Appeal surround the government’s belief that George-Wiltshire erred and misdirected herself in law when she ruled that the National Assembly of Guyana properly, validly and lawfully passed a motion on a vote of no-confidence, provided for by Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.
The government further contends that the acting Chief Justice erred and misdirected herself in law when she ruled that the passage of the motion of no-confidence, provided for by Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, by the National Assembly on December 21, 2018, requires that the Cabinet shall resign on December 21, 2018.
The Attorney General also argues that the acting Chief Justice erred in law and fact, and her decision was unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence. It said further grounds of appeal will be filed when George-Wiltshire’s written judgment becomes available.
The government is asking the Court of Appeal for an order setting aside the acting Chief Justice’s decision and all consequential orders made thereunder.
In her ruling, George-Wiltshire had said while there is a need for an absolute majority vote in the National Assembly, the 33 votes in the 65-member Parliament, in her opinion, would constitute that majority, and therefore the government was defeated in the vote.
The Attorney General has maintained the government’s disagreement with the notion that 33-votes constitute an absolute majority, contending that an absolute majority is one more than the simple majority in Guyana’s Parliament.