CCJ scheduled to hear presidential term limits case next week

first_imgConstitutional challengeThe Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is set to hear the Guyana Government’s appeal of the constitutional challenge to presidential term limits. According to information posted on the CCJ’s website, a hearing on the matter is scheduled to begin at 10:00h on March 12, and will be done via audio-visual recording.Former Speaker Raphael Trotman and Attorney General Basil Williams were the named respondents in the original constitutional challenge, which was filed by Georgetown resident Cedrick Richardson in the High Court. This court action, among other things, challenged the constitutionally of the National Assembly-sanctioned two-term limits on the Presidency.Guyana’s Court of Appeal ruled in February 2017 that the constitutional amendments by Parliament to limit the amount of times a person can serve as President were unconstitutional. During that February decision, then acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, was supported by Justice of Appeal B.S. Roy in upholding then acting Chief Justice Ian Chang’s decision that the amendments were unconstitutional.The decision which the Appellate Justice upheld signalled that an amendment to the Constitution on presidential term limits, which was enacted when the National Assembly altered Article 90 via a two-thirds vote in 2000, needs a referendum to make a final decision.This enactment was recommended by an across-the-board Constitutional Reform Committee of 2000/2001. This Committee included both Government and Opposition input, and the reform received bipartisan support.Many observers contend that if the CCJ rules in favour of former CJ Chang’s original ruling, it would allow for former Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo to run on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C’s) ticket at presidential candidate for the 2020 elections. Despite this scenario, the party is seemingly undecided on who will be their presidential candidate for next electionsJagdeo, who now serves as Opposition Leader, had in fact told the press that he is more interested in building his party’s base than being bothered by an ongoing court matter. Jagdeo declared: “When the right time comes, we will decide on a presidential candidate.”His comments followed speculation over his future, he having formerly served as President from 1999 to 2011, and having re-entered the field of active politics.Jagdeo has stressed that he is mostly concerned about ensuring that his party is victorious at the nation’s next polls. “I made it clear that the PPP is not decided on a presidential candidate for 2020.I’m General Secretary of the party, I took over in January last year after the congress, and my job as General Secretary is to work hard to transform the party, to widen its base, and prepare it to win the elections regardless of what position I serve in,” he noted.Attorney General Basil Williams had appealed the Appeal Court’s landmark ruling in February 2017 that declared that sovereignty resides in the people and not in the Parliament; and as such, certain fundamental clauses in the Constitution that serve to define its substantive nature can be altered only by a referendum of the people. AG Basil Williams and colleague Raphael Trotman challenged the ruling in the CCJ. The decision to refer the matter to the CCJ was presided over by acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Appellate Judge Dawn Gregory and then High Court Judge Rishi Persaud.If that appeal is unsuccessful, then the voters of Guyana would have a choice of four classes of persons that were barred by Art 17 of 2001. These classes are: (A) only a citizen by birth or of parentage can qualify to be the President; (B) a person must be residing in Guyana on the date of nomination for election, (C) a person must have been a resident for seven years immediately before that date, and (D) Citizens of Guyana who have served for two terms as President.Last elections, back in 2015, saw former President Donald Ramotar serving as the PPP’s presidential candidate, while his running mate was Diplomat Elisabeth Harper, who served as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.last_img

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