The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has dismissed an application by Guyana lawmaker Charrandass Persaud to block Friday’s sitting of that country’s National Assembly.
Persaud, the former Alliance for Change (AFC) parliamentarian who voted in support of the no-confidence motion in the ruling coalition government in December, sought an order to prevent Guyana’s parliament from sitting until the CCJ gives its ruling on appeals relating to the no-confidence motion.
Persaud and the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) have challenged Guyana’s appellate court ruling which invalidated December’s no-confidence vote against the ruling coalition government.
Persaud’s attorney Sanjeev Datadin filed the urgent application in the CCJ on Thursday, however, the court ruled that the March 22 decision by Guyana’s appeal court, which invalidated the no-confidence motion, stands “until and unless” the court reverses the decision.
The CCJ’s ruling said the “the status of the Government and the National Assembly of Guyana is unaffected,” and “it would be imprudent in those circumstances” for it to restrain the assembly from meeting.
Datadin, during a pre-trial hearing, on Wednesday, told the court that Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly was intended to pass legislation relating finance, and specifically to companies in the oil and gas sector.
The CCJ has set May 9 and 10 for the hearing of the consolidated challenges which seeks to have the appellate court’s ruling thrown out.
In December, Persaud, who was a member from President David Granger’s APNU-AFC coalition, sided with the opposition.
The motion was appealed and Guyana’s Court of Appeal, in a majority ruling, held that there was a need for an absolute majority of 34 votes for the no-confidence motion to be passed, and not the 33 votes it received in December.
By a majority of two to one, the appellate court judges ruled that the no-confidence motion was not passed.
In their application, Persaud and the PPP are seeking to restore the decision of the acting Chief Justice on January 31, which validated the no-confidence vote, a declaration that the vote was validly passed by a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly and that 33 votes constituted a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly.
They contend by section 106(6) of the Constitution of Guyana, the Cabinet, including the president, is required to resign if the Government is defeated on the vote of a majority of all elected members of the assembly on a vote of no- confidence.
They say the assembly is comprised of 65 elected members and on December 21, last year, when 33 members voted in favour of the motion and 32 against, the speaker declared the motion passed.
They also contend that the Government was required to hold an election in three months, on or before March 22.
Persaud, meanwhile, is also challenging the contention that he was ineligible to vote because he held dual citizenship, while there is a separate challenge against the decision by Granger to appoint Justice James Patterson as chairman to the Guyana Elections Commission (GEOCOM) on the basis that he was not qualified for appointment.