By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Governance and Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman has signalled the APNU+AFC government’s intention to challenge a ruling by Chief Justice Ian Chang, which nullifies a constitutional amendment made in the 2001 Herdmanston Constitutional Reform process.
Chang on Thursday ruled that the power to limit the amount of terms a person can serve as President lies in the people and should be done by way of referendum and not by parliamentary majority.
Effectively, his ruling cleared any legal obstacles in the path of Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo to seek a third term in office as President.
Trotman, who was Speaker when the writ was filed in the High Court was named as one of the defendants along with then Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.
Trotman told reporters on Thursday that the ruling will more than “likely be the subject of an appeal because something like this which goes to the heart of our constitution has to be tested by the highest court which is the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice).”
The Politician also pointed out that the ruling has some ripple effects other pieces of legislation that were reformed simultaneously with the Presidential limits.
“What we have to look at is the fact that this decision has implications for all of the raft of reforms that come under the Herdmanston reform process…all of them may very well fall under the hammer…you may be thinking that you are going at one provision but really and truly this ruling, if allowed to stand, would really set apart and wash away all of the reforms that were put in place during the Herdmanston reform process…it cuts into and cuts across the full gamut of reforms,” Trotman pointed out.
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.