The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Friday night disputed a High Court challenge to scrap former government Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud’s vote for the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion because he is a Canadian.
The PPP contended that the Guyana Constitution also provides for the preservation of all acts by parliamentarians although he or she might have been ineligible to sit in the 65-seat House. The PPP quotes the constitution as saying that “The Assembly may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership (including any vacancy not filled when the Assembly first meets after the commencement of this Constitution or after any dissolution of Parliament) and the presence or participation of any person not entitled to be present at or to participate in the proceedings of the Assembly shall not invalidate those proceedings.”
The PPP said it would also join the proceedings and it urged other interested parties to do likewise.
Declaring the legal proceedings brought in the name of Compton Reid as “frivolous”, the PPP said this was aimed at having the government hold on to power instead of calling general elections. The PPP called on the court system to hear and determine the case swiftly. “We urge the Judiciary not to be complicit in any conspiracy to undermine and flout the Constitution and make a mockery of our democracy. We expect that this matter would be heard on a day-to-day basis and that the Judiciary would not contribute to the Government’s violation of the Constitution.”
Reid, through Senior Counsel Rex McKay’s Chambers, argues in court papers that Persaud’s nomination and subsequent selection to sit in the National Assembly was unconstitutional because he never declared he is a Canadian and swore allegiance to a foreign power in his oath of citizenship.
The High Court was also asked by Reid to stay the enforcement of Resolution 101 declared by the Clerk of the National Assembly to have been passed in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018.
Further, the High Court has been asked to issue a conservatory order, preserving the status quo ante that the government remains in office until the hearing and determination of the reliefs sought herein,” states court papers that were filed at the High Court Registry.
No date has been fixed yet for the commencement of the hearings.
This court action does not challenge the accuracy of the votes for and against the motion – whether it is 33 to 32 or 32.5 rounded up to 33 +1=34.
However, the Reid case argues that if the court invalidates Persaud’s vote, it would be 32-32.