The Constitution of Guyana is pellucid on what number of votes is needed for the passage of a no-confidence motion; it is a majority of all elected Parliamentarians – the majority of 65 is 33 votes.
This declaration was made by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday (March 22, 2019) evening in a televised video recording following the hot-button issue that was the ruling of the Appeal Court on the cases related to the no-confidence motion.
The Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the ruling of the Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George-Wiltshire, relative to one of the three cases that challenged the validity of the vote on the no- confidence motion on December 21, 2018 – a vote that was upheld by Guyana’s Legislature.
Jagdeo noted that Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states that: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
According to him, the Constitution is clear in saying that the vote is valid if a majority of all elected Parliamentarians – 33 Parliamentarians – cast their vote in favour of the passage of a no-confidence motion.
He added that all right-thinking Guyanese would conclude that 33 is the majority of 65 – a conclusion that was extensively addressed by the Chief Justice (ag) in her ruling.
“No strange mathematics can change what is in the Constitution…a majority of all elected members in the National Assembly is 33,” Jagdeo said.
He explained that the argument about a vote of 34 being needed was not the argument he expected to be used by the Appeal Court to overturn the ruling of the Chief Justice (ag).
“I thought (that) if the Chief Justice’s ruling was to be overturned, it would have been on another technicality, not this one…this is probably the weakest argument,” Jagdeo said, adding that the ruling of the Chief Justice was profound and well-reasoned.
The Chief Justice in her ruling had said: “While the terms ‘simple majority’ and ‘absolute majority’ may be useful in common parlance for the purposes of interpretation – and some Constitutions do have such language – it might be best to focus on the meanings of those terms instead of the terms themselves. That is, instead of asking what constitutes an ‘absolute majority’, this court will consider what constitutes a ‘majority of all elected Members of the National Assembly’.
The PPP has since signaled its intention to file an appeal at the Caribbean Court of Justice.