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Jun 18, 2019

Was Charandas Persaud Eligible to Vote as Dual Citizen?

Adrian Saunders

The issue of Persaud’s eligibility to vote as a dual citizen was also challenged before the C.C.J.   In Guyana, dual citizens are not allowed to run for office in elections to the National Assembly.  The C.C.J., however, determined that Guyana’s Validity of Elections Act requires that a petition alleging that Persaud was disqualified from the electoral process ought to have been filed in Guyana’s Supreme Court within twenty-eight days following the publication of the results of the 2015 election.

 

Justice Adrian Saunders, President, Caribbean Court of Justice

“The Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the Chief Justice’s decision that the claim against Mr. Persaud’s election could not be entertained and that his vote could not be invalidated.  A majority, however, agreed with the attorney general’s half-plus-one formula and found that the motion required thirty-four votes in order to be validly passed.  Both findings of the Court of Appeal were appealed to this court.  It was argued on behalf of the Attorney General, Mr. Reid, and Mr. Joseph Hammond, altogether, all lumped together and referred to as the respondents, that article 106-6 did not apply to motions of no confidence.  They highlighted the fact that the article in the constitution used the phrase, “on the vote of confidence” and they submitted that there was a fundamental difference between a motion of confidence and a motion of no confidence.  In particular, it was argued that only a member of the government could move motions of confidence and that the article, that’s Article 106, that article’s requirement for the government to resign and for elections to be held did not apply to motions of no confidence.  The court rejected these submissions.  The court held that Article 106 gave effect to the fundamental principle of responsible or accountable government, a principle that requires the government to resign when it no longer enjoys the confidence of parliament.”

 

The government of Guyana was represented by Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay.


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