Ministers of government no longer hold their offices constitutionally, therefore, they are no longer entitled to public-funded salaries, benefits and use of State resources. At least, this is according to Attorney-at-law and People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Candidate, Charles Ramson Jr.
The lawyer said that the unconstitutionality of the officeholders came on the heels of the protracted delay of the official election results, which has ultimately placed the swearing-in of the new president in limbo.
Ramson Jr. contends that even as this period of uncertainty continues, ministers, including the Prime Minister and Vice-Presidents are still holding their respective offices. This is unconstitutional, as the laws of Guyana do not permit such tenancies, Ramson Jr. argues.
The lawyer made reference to articles of the Constitution of Guyana, namely: Articles 61, 101, 103, 104, 106, 112, and 183, that contain, inter alia, clarity on the matter regarding the legality of ministers retaining their posts post-dissolution of Parliament and the hosting of Regional and General Elections – which is yet to conclude 23 days later.
Ramson Jr. noted that Article 104 states that the appointments of the Prime Minister, Vice-Presidents and Ministers shall have effect – which means shall be valid or in force – in “any period between a dissolution of Parliament and the day on which the next election of members of the National Assembly is held”.
The politician said that it is important to note that the article did not state that the respective appointments shall have effect until the result of the election is declared.
“With the day of the election appointed as and held on 2nd March 2020, the Ministers, which includes the Prime Minister, and the Vice Presidents no longer hold valid appointments,” Ramson Jr. argues.
The politician said that the issue is further exacerbated by the passage of the no-confidence motion, which had reduced the government to a “caretaker” one. Given this, and the supposition that the ministers are occupying their offices unconstitutionally, Ramson Jr. concluded that the only elected persons of the Government which now remain is that of the President, who becomes a repository of all previously appointed ministerial portfolios, and the Attorney General (though not the Minister of Legal Affairs). But they, too, are still operating in “caretaker capacity” given the effects of the no-confidence motion.
“Ministers, which includes the Prime Minister, and Vice Presidents, no longer have valid appointments and are not legally entitled to receive any salaries, benefits, and use of state resources connected thereto. Any such receipt thereof would naturally necessitate the institution of legal proceedings for restitution and malfeasance in public office for any payment made thereto,” Ramson concluded.
USe pic of Ramson