Lawyer wants parliamentary sittings postponed

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With the National Assembly scheduled to meet on Friday, legal counsel for former Alliance for Change (AFC) Parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud has warned that he will file a legal action to bar the holding of the parliamentary sitting if it is not postponed.

This was announced during a pre-trial hearing at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday, in the case of Christopher Ram vs the Attorney General and Opposition. This is one of three no-confidence motion related cases that will be heard by the CCJ next month.

Issuing this warning was Attorney-at- Law Sanjeev Datadin, who is Charrandas Persaud’s legal representative.

“We’ve learnt from the press that there’s a sitting of parliament on (Friday). And the schedule is to pass legislation related to finance and more importantly, to pass legislation for the oil and gas sector.”

“Now having regard for what is before the courts and what are the implications, one way or another, of the vote of December 21, it’s our respectful submission that that should be refrained from. We’ve not made a specific application to the court, because we intended to raise it with the court and solicit from the Attorney General an undertaking.”

Datadin warned, however, that if the sitting is not postponed then he will file a formal application to force the suspension. CCJ President Adrian Saunders, however, deferred from commenting on Datadin’s announcement unless a formal application is before the courts.

Responding to this development on Wednesday, Attorney General Basil Williams did not take too kindly to the attorney’s move. According to Williams, the Appeal Court’s ruling means that it is business as usual, unless the CCJ says otherwise.

Meanwhile, the three cases before the CCJ deal with Christopher Ram v The Attorney General of Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon; Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo v the Attorney General of Guyana, Dr Barton Scotland and Joseph Harmon; and Charrandas Persaud v Compton Herbert Reid, Dr Barton Scotland, Bharrat Jagdeo and Joseph Harmon; the last of which deals with Persaud’s eligibility to vote in the House.

In the case of Ram vs the Attorney General, the political activist had petitioned the High Court to have Government resign and President David Granger call elections within 90 days as stipulated by Articles 106 (6) and (7) of the Constitution.

The Court of Appeal had ruled in a 2:1 split decision that a majority of 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the No-confidence Motion brought against the Government last year.

While Justice Rishi Persaud had dismissed the appeal and conferred with the ruling of the High Court, his colleague appellate Judges allowed the State’s appeal.

Both Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory opined that while 33 is the majority of the 65-member National Assembly, the successful passage of a no-confidence motion requires an “absolute majority” of 34, and not the “simple” majority of 33 that has been used to pass ordinary business in the House.

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