By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang on Thursday struck down a limitation in Guyana’s constitution that would allow any President to serve only two terms in office after a motion was brought before the court by private citizen, Cedric Richardson.
Richardson had approached the High Court earlier in 2015, contending that the move by Guyana ‘s National Assembly to restrict a President to be able to serve only two terms in office is illegal in its current form and such a reform should have been done by way of referendum.
According to one of the lawyers representing the plaintiff, for such a major constitutional reform to be undertaken without the say of the wider population was wrong, hence the reason for the writ seeking for it to be deemed illegal.
The Attorney, Emily Dodson had stated it is outrageous for a 65 member parliament to sit and “fiddle” with the constitution in such a manner without having a referendum being undertaken.
In his ruling, the Chief Justice stated “the alteration or replacement of the original 1980 preamble was effected by Act 6 of 2001 which did not receive the approval of Guyanese citizens by way of referendum yet it declares “as citizens of Guyana, we adopt these fundamental laws and make provisions for their amendments to reflect changes in our society.”
He also states that Article 9 of Guyana’s Constitution guarantees the Guyanese people sovereignty “through their representatives and the democratic organs established by or under this constitution.”
“The purported alteration of Article 90 by the Act No. 17 of 2001, in substance and effect, undoubtedly diminishes the democratic rights of the electorate in electing a person of their own choice as President…The court therefore holds that Act No. 17 of 2001, in so far as it seeks to trench on and dilute the pre-existing democratic rights of the electorate to elect as President, a person of their choice,” the Chief Justice said in his ruling, which was done in Chambers.
Jagdeo had stated that he does not wish to run for a third term in office. He also stated that he does not wish to be a parliamentarian but is now listed as the Leader of the Opposition.
It should be noted that the CJ’s ruling can be appealed.