Attorney General, Basil Williams has signaled that government would be appealing a High Court decision that two government ministers could not be non-elected members of the National Assembly because they were on the APNU+AFC’s list of candidates.
“We totally reject that decision as being erroneous in point of law and we are going to challenge that decision,” he said in a video-recorded comment issued by the Government Information Agency (GINA).
Ministers Keith Scott and Winston Felix were selected as un-elected/technocratic ministers and so they are members of parliament.
Williams charged that he had not been given an opportunity to respond to arguments by Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall who represented Desmond Morian in the petition. Morian is a member of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).
The Attorney General is expected to rely on several arguments in the appeal. They include that the case could only have been brought through an elections petition and that the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) first has to extract the names from a party’s list of candidates before those persons could be considered elected members.
“You cannot have an elected member of any list until 1-their names are extracted by the representative of the list and the Chief Elections Officer declares those names in the order of their extraction to be the names of the candidates of such list,” Williams said.
In explaining the essence of his decision, Chief Justice Chang has told Demerara Waves that “They are elected members of the National Assembly since you vote for a list. When seats were allocated, they were allocated from a list in terms of number so all the persons on the list are elected members of the National Assembly but if you are not on the list you can’t be an elected member.”
The Attorney General also accused outgoing Chief Justice, Ian Chang of refusing to give him a hearing in the proceedings. “That was so surprising and it’s improper to treat the Attorney General’s Chambers in that mater by just suddenly out of the blues surfacing to say you rendering a decision without giving the Attorney General and opportunity to be heard in the first place,” Williams added.
Justice Chang has not issued an order for the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland to ask Scott and Felix to vacate their seats.
Sources said the President has the option of recalling two other government parliamentarians, who are not ministers, to allow Scott and Felix to sit properly in the House as elected members.
Scott is a junior Minister of Social Protection and Felix is Minister of Immigration and Citizenship.