Deputy Speaker, Attorney General disagree on constitutionality of elections date


By Jomo Paul

Attorney General [left] Anil Nandall and Attorney – at – Law, Basil Williams. [iNews’ Photo]
[] – Deputy Speaker of the soon to be dissolved National Assembly Basil Williams has reaffirmed that the manner in which Guyana’s elections was announced was unconstitutional but the President still has an opportunity to make corrections.

Williams, speaking at an A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) press conference on Friday February 27, made it clear that before the President named a date for elections, Parliament should have been dissolved.

“Under article 61 he was bound to have dissolution before a name a date….he could not constitutionally, legally and lawfully name a valid elections date as May 11, before Parliament was dissolved,” said Williams

Article 61 of Guyana’s Constitution reads “an election of members of the National Assembly under article 60 (2)shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution ofParliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation:Provided that no balloting commenced during the period of threemonths aforesaid, performed before the day so appointed, andpursuant to which the votes of any person registered as electors arecast at the election, shall be deemed contrary to the requirements ofthis article by reason only that such balloting has been so performed.”

This point was previously made by Professor Duke Pollard who lecturers law at the University of Guyana. Pollard, also former judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), said that Article 61 of Guyana Constitution mandates the President to name a date for General and Regional Elections only after Parliament has been dissolved.

However, according to Williams, despite the date being constitutionally invalid; the Party would still be contesting the May 11 General Election.

“The court has to make it unlawful…we are going to contest the elections. We are saying they still have an option to do the right thing,” said the APNU Executive Member.

However, when contacted by iNews on Friday, Attorney General Anil Nandlall made it clear that the elections date is constitutionally valid.

He explained that the constitution mandates the President to name a date for elections and dissolve Parliament within three months but does not say which should come first.

The Attorney General told iNews that Article 61 of Guyana’s constitution has been misinterpreted by the Deputy Speaker.

“The date must be within three months and the dissolution must come before elections…he named a date and he dissolved Parliament…it is within the constitutional parameters. The dissolution is first and the election is after and it’s within the three months that is within the constitutional requirements that have to be satisfied,” said Nandlall.