GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday July 12, 2019 – The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says it cannot set a date for elections in Guyana, throwing the ball back into the court of the government which lost a no-confidence motion seven months ago.
Despite ruling last month that the no-confidence motion passed against the government last December was valid, the CCJ today delivered consequential declarations, saying it would not make precise orders but expected that the David Granger administration would continue as a caretaker for the affairs of the country, being restrained in the use of its legal authority.
The CCJ noted that there is clear guidance in Article 106 of Guyana’s Constitution on what should happen next – after the passage of a vote of no confidence, the Cabinet, including the President, should resign. The Article goes on to state, among other things, that notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and that an election shall be held “within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine”.
The CCJ noted that the government’s filing of proceedings in the High Court, challenging the validity of the no-confidence motion in January, effectively placed matters on pause. But the CCJ rendered its decision validating the motion on June 18.
The court cautioned, however, that it is not “the role of the Court to establish a date on, or by which, the elections must be held”.
The Trinidad-based court insisted that Article 106 is clear and should be followed.
The CCJ was also due to deliver consequential declarations on the process of choosing a new chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), after ruling that the appointment of the last holder of the office, retired justice James Patterson, was flawed.
Two weeks after the court’s ruling, Patterson resigned. The process to select his replacement has since started. And CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders said there was therefore no need for the court to issue any orders on that matter.
However, it was the court’s view that the appointment process should be embarked upon with “the utmost urgency” in light of the CCJ’s decision in the no-confidence motion cases which has triggered the need for fresh general elections.