Guyana Elections: Political coalition agreement illegal, says Guyana attorney general

Political coalition agreement illegal, says Guyana attorney general

Published on March 12, 2015 – Caribbean News Now

 Attorney General, Anil Nandlall

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Guyana’s attorney general and minister of legal affairs, Anil Nandlall, has claimed that the newly formed APNU/AFC (A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change) coalition of political parties has no foundation in law.

Nandlall said that the document is fraught with a number of worrying concerns for the Guyana electorate.

He stated that the so-called “Cummingsburg Accord”, based upon what has been made public, is essentially an agreement between the two political parties, but that it has no foundation in law, as “it is not grounded in the constitution.” This, he said makes for a number of huge potential problems, irrespective of what transpires in the upcoming general and regional elections.

Nandlall explained that the accord itself, and the way that it distributes powers and shares Cabinet responsibilities are anti-constitutional, and it is the constitution that actually prescribes “what the powers of the president are, and what the powers of the PM are, and how persons are appointed to the Cabinet,” and not some ad-hoc arrangement.

Nandlall pointed out that the document declares that the presidential candidate will enjoy, if he becomes the president, reduced executive powers, and the prime minister, if the elections are won, expanded powers.

In this espect, he noted that the “constitution of Guyana provides very clearly that the president is the supreme executive authority of Guyana, that he is the head of state, and that he is commander- in- chief of the armed forces.” This, he suggested means that the alliance, with its accord, is seeking to foist on the people, something that is not based on the actualities and realisations of the laws of the country.

The minister pointed out that the Guyana constitution vests in the president, the express freedom to appoint ministers of his choice, and also the prime minister and vice president if he so wishes. Therefore, according to him, “these constitutional provisions have all now, been made redundant, as they collide with the constitution, (and we know that) it is the constitutional law that must prevail against any agreement or statue, so what we have is something that is void ab initio and unconstitutional, and therefore of no legal effect.”

In the event that the new alliance does win governance for the country, he said that, for the accord to work, it then has to rewrite the Guyana constitution, and this cannot be done in any easy and quick way.

“It will require a two-thirds majority at a minimum, for any one of those provisions they have conjured up to be made a reality,” he said, adding, “Some of them may require a referendum.”

The AG stated that he has “not seen in the agreement, any reference to constitutional amendments, so as to give effect to this accord, and in any event, one cannot predict that assuming that they, the coalition, should win the election, that they will enjoy a two-thirds majority (the required conditionality to make amendments to the Guyana constitution).”

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  • Lord Norman  On 03/13/2015 at 9:35 am

    The PPP is crying “sour grapes” now, Did they ever abide by the laws and the constitution? If they had Guyana would never be in the mess it is now. All the shenanigans going on with the “cuss down”politics, corruption, nepotism and skulduggery going on now with the PPP. Dr Jagan maybe turning in his grave.
    They have reached the abyss of puerility and pig pigheadedness

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 03/13/2015 at 12:04 pm

    A blow to the chest.

  • Deen  On 03/13/2015 at 4:16 pm

    It is true that the constitutin clearly defines the role of the president and prime minister. The redefine the role and responsibilities of the president and prime minister the constitutin will have to be amended. Any indications by APNU/AFC Coalition signifying changes to the roles of the president and prime minister is unconstitutional and immaterial.

    • albert  On 03/13/2015 at 5:50 pm

      “Any indications by APNU/AFC Coalition signifying changes to the roles of the president and prime minister is unconstitutional and immaterial.”

      Does the question of delegating authority but retaining responsibility not apply. The US President is the commander in chief of the arm forces but as far as I know he appoints Generals and give authority to implement policies. How would it be different with Guyana.

      • Thinker  On 03/14/2015 at 3:14 am

        Technically speaking, it is not the same thing. As a point of constitutional law the AG is right. However, if the President decides that there will be a working agreement, nothing can prevent that. The crucial thing that all must bear in mind is that the present constitution is unworkable. It is silly for anyone to talk as if the Constitution came down from Heaven when we all know that it came down from Burnham.

  • Terry Beharry  On 03/13/2015 at 5:06 pm

    back to dictatorship under the PNC…. Well let see who will be the sufferers in the future Guyana……

    • albert  On 03/14/2015 at 11:49 am

      “back to dictatorship under the PNC…. Well let see who will be the sufferers in the future Guyana……”

      I dont know much of Nagamootoo but I wish Granger had some of the characterestics of Burnham. Guyana would need a dictatorial President to clean up the mess Jagdeo/Ramoutar has created. For one thing to get back all the stolen public money and tell all the crooks in high places to leave by X time.

      • Thinker  On 03/14/2015 at 12:38 pm

        Albert, you don’t need a dictator to clean up any mess. The rule of law is what we need. Get a constitution with adequate checks and balances.

    • Thinker  On 03/14/2015 at 12:35 pm

      The Burnham Dictatorship was allowed to exist because the US did not want a pro-Soviet government in Souith America. Simple as that. The minute Communism fell, Cheddi was able to get the support of several US Congressmen to call for free elections in Guyana. Burnham used to tease Jagan and ask him how he could be talking about dictatorship in Guyana after just visiting Cuba and saying nothing. Of course the answer to that, even today, is that the PPP does not criticize fraternal parties. So, frankly, Burnham’s dictatorship could not prosper without Jagan.

  • albert  On 03/14/2015 at 2:07 pm

    Thinker you don’t need a dictator to clean up any mess. The rule of law is what we need. Get a constitution with adequate checks and balances”

    Ah my friend you dont know how administratively difficult that is in practice for countries such as Guyana. How do you get corrupt police officers, Judges, department heads, etc to now turn around and follow the rule of law. Where would you get that experienced staff, (especiallly accountants) to straighten out the financial records and devise new systems for the “rule of law” and “checks and balances” to work in practice.

    What Jagdeo/Ramoutar have done is to establish a national incompetent corrupt administrative structure to protect them while they robb the country. Removing and replacing that structure takes much managerial know how and time…………..assuming those in charge know what they are doing and are willing to expend resources for the long run benefit of the country.

    I may be wrong but Granger does not seem to be the kind of Political Administrative head, with the necessary “dictatorial” mind set, necessary to make tough unpopular decisions to bring about the kind of changes Guyana needs.

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