‘The vote is valid’ – Ralph Ramkarran


Former Speaker of the National Assembly has dismissed claims that the 33 votes in 65-seat legislature Friday did not properly represent a majority for the No-Confidence motion against the Government to be properly carried.

At the end of the vote, the Clerk declared that there were 33 votes for the motion and 32 against. The Speaker subsequently announced that the motion was “carried.”

Shortly after, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo accepted the vote in saying that it had to be accepted.

On Saturday, the Government issued a statement saying it would abide by the stipulations of the constitution, which is that elections be called in 90 days.

Prominent Attorney Nigel Hughes has argued that in the case of a No Confidence motion, an absolute majority is needed, that is 34 votes.

Ramkarran, a Senior Counsel for over 20 years, who also served ten years as Speaker of the National Assembly, suggested Mr Hughes’ claims would not stand up in court.

“The Prime Minister accepted it, the President accepted it, the Speaker of the National Assembly accepted and announced it as a valid vote – it is a valid vote,” Ramkarran told the News Room in an interview Thursday.

He said that the primary rule of legal interpretation is that the law must be considered on the basis of literal meaning.

“Now, what’s the literal meaning of majority? One more. 33 is one more than 32, that’s the literal meaning of a majority and that is what everybody understands.

“So this fanciful idea of a majority being 34 is just what it is – fanciful,” he declared.

He said there are cases in Guyana at the Caribbean Court of Justice, which dictate that the courts should not be swayed by “pristine technicality.”

The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) Wednesday rejected the contention that the motion “was not properly passed” or that the vote is “invalid,” noting that such an argument can lead to instability.

“The giving of effect to any contentions that there is some possibility other than elections being held within 90 days of the passage of the motion could lead to instability and our democracy must be protected by the unambiguous adherence to the rule of law and to the provisions of Article 106(6) of the Constitution,” the Bar Council said in its statement.

Government Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud shocked the country when he voted in support of the PPP’s No-Confidence motion last Friday.

The PPP has 32 seats in the House; the Government, with Persaud, has 33.

President David Granger has established a sub-committee to examine “all of the legal and constitutional aspects” of the vote.

That Committee was expected to report to the Cabinet today and give its recommendations.

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