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High Court action seeks to block two ministers from sitting in National Assembly

Keith Scott and Winston Felix

A People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) candidate is challenging the constitutionality of two government parliamentarians sitting in the National Assembly because their names have not been extracted from the coalition’s list of candidates.

Desmond Morian, a PPPC candidate in the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, says Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix and Minister in the Ministry of Communities, Keith Scott should be barred from sitting in the House.

Their names have not been extracted from the list of candidates for A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and they have been made technocratic ministers, something the PPP has strenuously objected to.

Through his lawyer, former Attorney General Anil Nandall,  Morian has filed legal proceedings naming Attorney General Basil Williams and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland as respondents.

Morian cites several grounds and wants the High Court to issue:

(i)            a Declaration that Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott are not lawful members of and cannot sit in the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of Guyana;

(ii)          an Order directing the Second Named Respondent to prevent Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott from sitting in the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of Guyana, unless and until their names are extracted from A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change National Top-up List of Candidates for the May, 11th 2015, General Elections;

(iii)         such further and other Orders that may be just and appropriate in the circumstances.

AND FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that the grounds of this application are as follows:

(i)            that Articles 60, 103, 105, 160 and 232 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Chapter 1:01, conjointly set out the qualifications of persons who are:

(a)          elected and non-elected, members of the National Assembly;

(b)          voting and non-voting members of the National Assembly.

(ii)          that having regard to the clear language and the intendment of Articles 60, 103, 105, 160 and 232 of the Constitution of Guyana the said Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott are not lawful members of and cannot sit in the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of Guyana, unless and until their names are extracted from A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change National Top-up List of Candidates for the May, 11th 2015, General Elections.

1.            The names Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott appeared on A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) National Top-up List of Candidates for the May, 11th 2015, General Election as published in the Official Gazette [legal supplement] B dated 16th April, 2015.

2.            A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) lists of candidates were allocated 33 seats in the National Assembly by the Guyana Elections Commission in the publicly declared results of May, 11th 2015, General and Regional Elections.

3.            In the Official Gazette legal supplement dated 5th day of June, 2015, the Guyana Elections Commission, in accordance with Section 99 of the Representation of the People’s Act, Chapter 1:03, inter alia, declared the results of the General Elections (National Top-up List) held on May, 11th 2015, pursuant to articles 60(2) and 61 of the Constitution and also declared the names of the persons, who, as result of the said election, were extracted to become members of the National Assembly from A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) List of Candidates in respect of that election.

4.            The names, Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott are not among the names on that list of persons who were extracted to become members of the National Assembly from A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) list of candidates. A copy of the said Official Gazette is hereto exhibited and marked “GP 1”.

5.            It is common knowledge that both Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott have been appointed Ministers of the Government of Guyana by President David Granger and indeed in Official Gazette dated 6th June, 2015, a Notice is thereof published of Ministers and assignment of responsibilities among Ministers.

6.            In that publication, Winston Gordon Felix is listed as “Minister of Citizenship within the Ministry of Presidency” and is a “Member of the Cabinet” with assigned responsibilities and Keith Winston Harold Scott is listed as a “Minister within the Ministry of Communities” with no assigned responsibility.

7.            The 11th Parliament of Guyana was convened on the 11th day of June, 2015, and Members of the National Assembly for A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) subscribed and took the oath of office as Members of the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of Guyana.

8.            Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott were among the persons who did so and they currently occupy a seat each in the National Assembly as non-voting members thereof.

9.            I am advised by Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, Attorney-at-Law, and do verily believe that:

(i)            Article 232 of the Constitution defined “an elected member of the National Assembly as a member of the National Assembly pursuant to the provisions of paragraph(2) of article 60 or article 160(2);”

(ii)          Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott are elected Members of the National Assembly;

(iii)         Articles 103(3) and 105 of the Constitution provides as follows:

Art. 103(3)     “Not more than four Ministers and two Parliamentary Secretaries shall be appointed by the President from among persons who are qualified to be elected as members of the National Assembly”.

Art 105           A Minister who was not an elected member of the Assembly at the time of his or her appointment shall (unless he or she becomes such a member) be a member of the Assembly by virtue of holding the office of Minister but shall not vote in the Assembly”.

(iv)         it is obvious that Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott purport to hold seats in the National Assembly pursuant to Articles 103(3) and 105 of the Constitution;

(v)          it is equally obvious that an elected member of the national Assembly are not captured by the language, spirit or intendment of Articles 103(3) and 105 of the Constitution;

(vi)         having regard to the clear language and the intendment of Articles 60, 103, 105, 160 and 232 of the Constitution of Guyana the said Winston Gordon Felix and Keith Winston Harold Scott are not lawful members of and cannot sit in the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament of Guyana.