US Govt reiterates importance of national elections

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In light of recent events in the local political arena, the United States Government has reminded Guyana of the importance of holding free and fair national elections.

This was resounded by Deputy Spokesperson of the Bureau of Public Affairs, Robert Palladino, in a statement dated March 22, 2019.

“The United States reiterates the importance of scheduling genuinely free and fair national elections in the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana in adherence with the Guyanese constitution and Guyanese law,” Palladino said.

Additionally, the second in command at the Bureau of Public Affairs further noted that the U.S. government values Guyana as a friend and partner, and as such, stands ready to assist as needed.

This missive from the Washington DC-based agency was issued on the same day that the Guyana Court of Appeal handed down a 2:1 majority decision, invalidating the Opposition sponsored No-Confidence Motion.

Appellate judges, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice Dawn Gregory, ruled that the motion needed an absolute majority of 34 votes and not a simple majority of 33 votes to successfully pass.

However, in a dissenting decision, Justice Rishi Persaud, dismissed the State’s Appeal and upheld the High Court’s ruling that the motion was successfully passed with a 33-32 majority vote.

Acting Chief Justice, Roxane George, in a January ruling had found that apart from the fact that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland, had deemed the motion carried, 33 must always be obtained for such a motion’s successful passage.

“In our 65-member National Assembly, a majority of all elected members, in accordance with the principle of ‘one overall rivals combined’, is 33 members,” the Chief Justice had reasoned.

Following the ruling, the Coalition government had resumed the State’s business as usual and is set to return to the National Assembly on April 11.

However, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has since said that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will not be attending any sitting of the House until the determination of its appeal at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

On Friday, March 29, 2019, the Trinidad-based regional Court held a case management hearing and set May 10 for arguments.

Meanwhile, government is preparing to return to the National Assembly with all 33 of its members including those holding dual citizens status. This is despite both the High Court and the Appeal Court ruling that it was illegal for persons who dual citizenship to sit in the House.

However, government’s spokesperson, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, said that they will be attending the parliamentary sittings until the CCJ delivers a final ruling on the matter.

But Jagdeo accused the coalition Government of being duplicitous for accepting the Appeal Court’s ruling that the No-confidence Motion was invalid, but not adhering to the court’s ruling that dual citizens are illegal in the National Assembly.

Nevertheless, President David Granger has already committed to ensuring that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is equipped with the resources, including funding, it needs to be in a state of readiness for elections.

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