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Updated: Guyana’s presidential term limit being challenged in High Court

President Donald Ramotar (left) and his predecessor, Bharrat Jagdeo.

A High Court writ was Monday filed challenging the constitutionality of Guyana’s two-term presidential term limit that prevents Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo from running again.

Filed by Cedric Richardson of 4 West Ruimveldt against the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman the motion seeks to scrap the term limit clause in the Constitution.

The Motion is filed by Attorney-at-Law, Shawn Allicock in association with Oneidge Walrond- Allicock, Emily Dodson and Coleen Sparman.

In court documents seen by Caribbean News Desk, Richardson wants the Nandlall and Trotman to respond within eight days after the service of the summons. Richardson contends that the amendment to the Constitution in 2001 by a two-thirds majority of parliamentarians that purportedly alters Article 90 “curtails and restricts the sovereign and democratic rights and freedom as a qualified elector to elect the person of former President Bharrat Jagdeo as the Executive Presidentof Guyana.”

Richardson also wants the court to find that the constitutional amendment has the consequence (advertent or inadvertent) of restricting and curtailing the democratic rights and freedom of the electorate by purporting to eliminate from the executive presidential candidate a person who has been re-elected as Executive President e.g. former President Bharrat Jagdeo. He believes that that change to the supreme law to provide for a term limit restricts or curtails the democratic rights and freedom of the electorate without a referendum. He further states that the purported amendment diminishes and reduces the level of democracy enjoyed by the electorate prior to the purported alteration and therefore required the holding of a referendum for such alteration.”

The Attorney General confirmed to Caribbean News Desk that he is a respondent in the matter for which no date has been fixed. “My peripheral reading of it is that it concerns the interpretation of a few articles of the Constitution unrelated to elections and the recent events,” he added. He could not immediately say whether Richardson’s case has good grounds.

Asked whether someone, who may harbor the desire for running for a third term, should await the outcome of the Constitutional case, he opted to say that a person is named a presidential candidate by his political party. Nandlall could not say if the governing party might wish to change its candidate if Richardson wins his case.

Incumbent President, Donald Ramotar has been already named his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) for the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections.

Just prior to the 2011 general and regional elections, a number of huge billboards and banners had appeared at strategic locations in Georgetown supporting then President Bharrat Jagdeo for a third term.

Jagdeo is not eligible to run again because the constitution states that a person elected as President  after the year 2000 is eligible for re-election only once. The constitution further states that a person who acceded to the presidency after 2000 and served therein for a single occasion for not less that such a period as may be determined by the National Assembly is eligible for election as President only once.