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High Court declares appointment of parliamentary secretaries “unlawful”; Attorney General appeals

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 April 2021, 16:17 by Denis Chabrol

The High Court on Tuesday ruled that two People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Parliamentary Secretaries are illegally sitting in the National Assembly as non-voting parliamentarians because they were elected candidates for a political party.

“I have concluded that the third and fourth respondents are not lawful members of the National Assembly since their membership is by virtue of their appointment as parliamentary secretaries and I so declare,” Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire. She added that based on that declaration, the appointment of Sarah Browne and Vikash Ramkissoon is also unlawful.

“They cannot be elected and non-elected members at the same time,” she said.  Ms. George-Wiltshire pointed out that Parliamentary Secretaries, who are regarded as junior ministers, can have voting rights if they are extracted from the list of elected members by the Representative of the List.

The Chief Justice  said her decision now clears the way for the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mansoor Nadir to remove Sarah Browne and Vikash Ramkissoon who were accorded non-elected members of the House because they were not extracted from the list of candidates and so were not eligible to vote in the Assembly.

Their appointments were challenged by Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones through his lawyer, fellow opposition parliamentarian Roysdale Forde.

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall later Tuesday afternoon filed an appeal, saying that the Chief Justice  misinterpreted and misconstrued provisions of the Guyana’s constitution and in the case of Desmond Morean’s challenge of the appointment of two elected members of the House as technocratic ministers, and misdirected herself in a number of aspects of her decision. “The Decision of the learned Hearing Judge does not accord with  the clear and unambiguous binding language of the Constitution of Guyana,” said.

The Chief Justice also flayed Attorney General Anil Nandlall for arguing against his own positions in an almost identical case in which the PPP’s Desmond Morean had successfully challenged then President David Granger’s appointment of elected A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) candidates Winston Felix and Keith Scott as ministers without voting rights. “Having argued otherwise, I have concluded that Mr. Nandlall is now trapped by his previous successful submissions and now seeks to say that the result of Morean is wrong,” the Chief Justice said.