Attorney General, Basil Williams has taken keen note of a statement made by the Bar Association Thursday, in which it called on GECOM to expedite the recount process to ensure accurate and transparent results, as failure to do so before April 30, will see the country falling into a constitutional abyss.
Williams said it is “half-truth” for the Bar Association to tell Gecom that Guyana would fall into a Constitutional abyss if its attempt under article 162 (1)(b) of the Constitution to deliver an impartial and free election in compliance with the laws of Guyana takes it beyond April 30, 2020.
According to Williams, the Bar Council had a duty to fully disclose that though Article 69 of the Constitution provides that on dissolution, the next session of Parliament must be convened no later than four months from the end of the preceding session, the Court of Appeal of Guyana in 2006, upheld the decision of the Chief Justice Carl Singh, that the four months timeline was “directory and not mandatory.”
Williams, who is government’s chief legal adviser, said although the Bar Council says the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land, it failed to disclose that its provisions are interpreted by the Courts and become the Law of Guyana.
The Attorney General reminded, “This case Civil Appeal No.79 of 2006 was appealed by the Leadership of the AFC, challenging the PPPC’s convening the new Parliament, not on the 2nd day of September 2006 (four months after dissolution) but on the 28th of September, 2006 almost five months later. The Bar Council did not make any alarm about a constitutional abyss then.”
Williams added that in the 2006 elections there was no pandemic that required social distancing, nor Court challenge before the declaration of the results of the elections as at present and the evidence showed a deliberate intention on the part of the PPP/C to ignore the four months timeline in Article 69.
The Attorney General sought to remind that now Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo had thrown the kitchen sink at Article 69 at the 2006 elections.
“He was sworn in on the 2nd day of September 2006, the date on which Parliament should have been convened; He appointed Ministers before their names were extracted by the Representative of the PPP/C’s list, and before the first session of Parliament commenced,” Williams further reminded.
Despite this blatant noncompliance with Article 69 by these actions coming after the four months required therein, Williams said that the Court of Appeal held that they were valid and Constitutional.
In conclusion on the issue, the Attorney General added that as in 2006, Guyana would not in 2020 descend into any constitutional abyss were Gecom in all the prevailing circumstances in the pursuit of democracy is unable to meet the 30th April 2020 timeline.
He said, “I trust that Gecom’s lawyers would respond to the vituperation and abuse directed towards it, by the Bar Council, but that it would not be distracted from its constitutional mandate envisaged in Articles 62 and 162 of the Constitution to independently supervise and conduct elections in Guyana, in order to deliver credible elections.”