AG files legal proceedings seeking to stay carried no confidence vote

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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams

The Attorney General, Basil Williams has filed legal proceedings in the High Court seeking to stay the no-confidence motion what was carried on December 21, and recently upheld by Speaker of National Assembly, on the grounds that 33 out of the 65 votes in the National Assembly does not constitute a majority, which is necessary for the passage of the motion.

In the court document disseminated by the subject Ministry, the Attorney General is listed as the applicant, while National Assembly Speaker Dr Barton Scotland and Leader of the Opposition Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, under whose name the no confidence motion was tabled, are listed as the respondents.

In its application, the AG is seeking to, among other things, determine “Whether the Speaker’s Ruling that the motion of no confidence debated in the National Assembly on the 21st day of December, 2018 was carried by a vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly is unlawful, null and void being contrary to Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”

Moreover, the AG is asking the High Court to determine “Whether the motion of no-confidence upon a division vote of 33:32 Members of the National Assembly was validly passed as the requisite  majority of  all the elected members  of the National Assembly pursuant to  article 106 (6) of the Constitution;

“Whether the requisite majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly ought properly to be 34 votes;

“Whether the President and all Ministers of the Government can remain in Office as a majority vote was not duly carried in accordance with Article 106 (6) of the Constitution;

“Whether the Court can make an order setting aside or nullifying the Speaker’s ruling that the motion was carried;

“Whether the court can make an order staying the enforcement of Resolution 101 declared by the Clerk of the National Assembly to have been passed on the 21st of December, 2018 in the National Assembly.

“Whether the court can grant a conservatory order, preserving the status quo ante that the President and all Ministers of the Government remain in office until the hearing and determination of the questions sought herein.”

The AG’s court action comes on the heels of calls made by legal luminaries and observers for the incumbent Administration to comply with Article 106 (6) the Constitution and resign, since they were defeated by a vote of no confidence.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Moreover, former AG Anil Nandlall has dubbed the actions being taken by Williams as abusing the legal system while at the same time “unlawfully” using State funds and resources in relation to the recent court action filed.

Nandlall had made it clear that after a Government falls to a no confidence vote, the current circumstances in question, it cannot be “business as usual.”

“Naturally, Government is expected to provide the basic services of the state to the citizens, which are public security, public health, public utilities, payment of salaries of public servants, etc…”

Besides these basic services, Nandlall made it clear that Government also has to give the highest priority to preparing the electoral machinery, in the form of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for elections within three months.

“Government cannot embark on new capital projects and cannot begin implementing new policies; more so, those that cannot be completed in time for elections. Any expenditure of public funds on those types of projects can be regarded as unlawful and may attract criminal liability,” he added.

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