Opposition leader does not support Ramkarran’s ‘Third Term’ interpretation

Leader of the APNU, David Granger.
APNU Leader, David Granger.
APNU Leader, David Granger.

[www.inewsguyana.com]Leader of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) David Granger says that his Party is not in support of Ralph Ramkarran’s interpretation of the presidential ‘third term’ rule embedded in the constitution.

Ramkarran, who is the Former Speaker of the National Assembly and long standing member of the governing People’s Progressive Party in his weekly column, noted that there might be a flaw in the third term rule, giving former Presidents another term to rule, instead of two.

When questioned about this at the APNU’s weekly press conference on Friday, November 28, Granger said, “The APNU takes an English Language constitution; that is the word ‘re’ means ‘again’ and if a person cannot be re – elected then that means he cannot be re – elected AGAIN. Our position is that Mr. Jagdeo is not eligible to be re – elected. He is not eligible to be elected ‘AGAIN’.  We do not support any interpretation which allows Mr Bharrat to be elected ‘A GAIN’ as President of Guyana…Any president,” the APNU said.

When Jagdeo’s second presidential term was coming to an end, there was much speculation that he would run for another term in office, but the constitution did not allow it.

Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.

However, Ramkarran in his column wrote that in 1999 the PPP gave evidence to the Constitutional Reform Commission (“CRC”) and expressed its support for a limit to be placed on presidential terms to two and that they ought to be consecutive.

In reflecting the PPP’s proposal, which was also made by others, the Report of the CRC said: “Many submissions proposed that a President should be limited to two terms in office.”

In its Recommendations the CRC said: “A person shall hold the office of President for a maximum of two (2) terms and those terms shall be consecutive.”

According to Ramkarran, after the Report of the CRC was delivered to the National Assembly in July, 1999, and unanimously approved on a motion tabled for that purpose, an Oversight Committee was established by the National Assembly to draft the legislation to reflect the Recommendations.

He explained in his column that even though the Report of the CRC was accepted in its entirety by the National Assembly, the Bill prepared by the Oversight Committee, which was eventually passed by the National Assembly, did not quite reflect the wording of the recommendation of the CRC.

The new constitutional provision states as follows: “A person elected as President after the year 2000 is eligible for re-election only once.”

According to Ramkarran, “The Bill giving effect to this constitutional amendment was supported by the Opposition and passed unanimously.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran.
Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran.

“This provision in the Constitution does not use the word “consecutively” and this has given rise to speculation that it allows a President to serve only one term or two consecutive terms and return after a lapse of one or more terms and seek election again. This speculation turns on the meaning of the word “re-election” in the provision. Since a “re-election” can only come immediately after an “election,” therefore “re-election” means “re-election” to a second consecutive term.

“A ‘re-election’ cannot come after a lapse of one or more terms because that would be an ‘election.’ Since a President can only be ‘re-elected’ only once, it means that he can only serve two consecutive terms at one time. The provision does not preclude a President being ‘elected’ again after a lapse of one or more terms as this would be an “election” and not a ‘re-election’,” Ramkarran explained.





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