CCJ sets date for hearing appeal from Guyana on no-confidence motion

Adrian Saunders

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice yesterday set May 10 to hear the appeal regarding the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Guyana that invalidated a motion of no confidence which Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had successfully moved in the National Assembly on December 21, last year.

“This matter is urgent and should be treated as such, and therefore the timelines set out in the rules should be abridged,” CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders told a case management conference.

“We have ordered that the matters be consolidated. We have granted special leave to appeal in each of the cases. We have given leave to the attorney general to file any cross appeal that he wishes to file by Monday or any other respondent who wishes to file a cross appeal,” the three-member CCJ panel said.

In addition, the CCJ ordered that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) “be joined as a party” and that the notices of appeal be filed by Monday, April 1.

The CCJ, which is Guyana’s highest court, also ordered that the notices of appeal be served “forthwith” on GECOM by the latest April 5, “and similarly the cross appeals, if any, filed by the appellants be served simultaneously” on GECOM.

“We have ordered that the matter (the appeal) be heard on the 10th May [and] that written submissions be filed by all parties on the 17th of April; that all parties file replies, if they wish to, by the 23rd of April, [and] a pre-trial hearing be held on the 24th of April,” said the CCJ.

Apart from Jagdeo’s appeal, the CCJ will also hear those filed by attorney Christopher Ram against the Attorney General Basil Williams, the minister of state Joseph Harmon, and Jagdeo on the same issue.

The Opposition leader, through his attorneys, filed the appeal on Tuesday asking the regional court to throw out last Friday’s ruling and restore the validity of the no confidence motion against the coalition government.

In the application, Jagdeo wants the CCJ to issue an order setting aside or reversing the ruling by the Court of Appeal, as well as ruling that the December 21 no confidence motion was validly passed by a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly.

The Opposition Leader also wants the court to declare that 33 votes constitute a majority within the meaning of the constitution when it comes to the no confidence motion, and not 34.

The three member Court of Appeal, in a split decision, said that the motion had to be passed by 34 of the 65 members of the National Assembly in order to be valid.