Guyana Government Goes to Court over No-Confidence Vote

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday January 4, 2018 – The Guyana government is set to go to the High Court today to file a challenge against a no-confidence vote it lost last month.

The move has come on the heels of Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland saying yesterday that he would not reverse the ruling on the controversial December 21, 2018 motion – in which 33 MPs in the 65-seat National Assembly, including government backbencher Charandass Persaud, voted ‘yes’, allowing it to pass – and would instead allow the court to decide on the issue.

The Speaker delivered his decision at a sitting boycotted by the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

At a press conference hosted on the sidelines of the Parliamentary sitting, Prime Minister and leader of Government’s business in the House, Moses Nagamootoo said Dr Scotland’s decision opened the door for a judicial challenge. And Minister of State Joseph Harmon confirmed that the coalition Government would file the matter in the High Court today.

Nagamootoo described the Speaker’s decision as “mature, wise and elevated” and said the court’s ruling in the matter will set a precedent.

He said it would be up to the court to decide if the total number of votes required for a no-confidence motion to be carried is 34 or 33, among other considerations presented in several “strong” and “compelling” arguments presented to the Speaker.

The government is seeking a stay of the no-confidence motion on the grounds that 34 votes are needed to pass the motion, and that Persaud’s vote was invalid given his dual citizenship.

In deciding on passing a ruling on the matter to the courts, Dr Scotland said he had received advice, both solicited and unsolicited, from various jurisdictions, on the issue. And he said that while he had the power to reverse the no-confidence resolution, he believes issues related to its passage might be better addressed “outside of Parliament”.

While Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has called for the Government to resign, Prime Minister Nagamootoo insisted yesterday that Article 106 (7) of the Constitution stipulates that the Government remains in office until the new President is sworn-in after the elections are held.

He said the work of the Government continues, making reference to the passage of several critical bills in the National Assembly yesterday.

Meantime, Minister Harmon told reporters that President David Granger had instructed him to write Jagdeo requesting a meeting on January 9, 2019, at 11 a.m. at the Ministry of the Presidency. Government is awaiting a response from the Opposition Leader about matters he would like to be addressed at that meeting.

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