first_img..will continue to lead struggle as General Secretary regardless of CCJ’S rulingCurrent People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, has signalled his interest in returning to Government in a formal capacity should his party return to the seats of power.This was communicated by a statement on Saturday.“Unlike the 2011-2015 period, where I played no formal part in the PPP Administration, I intend to be a formal part of the next PPP Government as we resume the implementation of plans to build a better country of which all our people can feel proud,” Jagdeo related in his release.He added that the PPP is a party not built on personalities “but on policies, all designed to create a better life for our people, and forge racial, ethnic and class unity,” he continued. “I remain committed to these policies and causes and will continue to struggle with the Party to achieve them. I remain absolutely humbled at the over-whelming confidence which the Guyanese people have continued to place in me and I remain eternally grateful for their continued support.”Jagdeo’s statement comes just days before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is expected to deliver a ruling in the case of Attorney General of Guyana v Cedric Richardson. This case will have major ramifications for Guyana.Last year, Government had decided to have the case heard in the CCJ after the Appeal Court in Guyana had dismissed its appeal against the ruling of former Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang – which had stated that in Guyana, sovereignty resides in the people, and not in the Parliament.Justice Chang’s ruling meant that certain fundamental clauses in the Constitution, which serve to define its substantive nature, could only be altered by a referendum of the people. According to Jagdeo, whatever the outcome of the ruling, he would remain on the political scene.“Multitudes of supporters of the PPP/C and even across the political divide have made contact with me. Many concerns were raised, including the public statements of those in Government in respect of a particular outcome,” Jagdeo related. “As a result, I am moved to publicly assure that whatever the ruling is, I am and will remain the General Secretary of the PPP,” Jagdeo said on Saturday.“In that capacity, I will continue to spearhead the Party’s struggle for a better life for all Guyanese, especially the working people, the poor and the under-privileged, for racial and national unity and for victory at the polls at the next Local Government, Regional and National Elections.”The challengeThe constitutional challenge case brought by Georgetown resident Cedric Richardson in February 2015 had sought the court’s interpretation of the National Assembly’s changes to Article 90, as those related to four restraints on the freedom of choice by citizens at national elections.Richardson argued, through his lawyers, Emily Dodson and Shawn Allicock, that the amendment – Article 17 of 2000 – unconstitutionally curtails and restricts his sovereign and democratic right and freedom as a qualified elector to elect a specific person of his choice as the Executive President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.Richardson had also contended that the limit was unconstitutional and illegal. He sought the court’s interpretation to determine whether a referendum on the amendment should not have been held, instead of the two-third majority in the National Assembly having the power to decide the limit on the number of terms.Justice Chang had ruled in July 2015 that the alteration of Article 90 by the Act No 17 of 2000, in substance and effect, undoubtedly diminishes the democratic rights of the electorate in electing a person of their own choice as President.The former acting Chief Justice noted that such an amendment needs a referendum and is invalid and without legal effect for reason of non-compliance. He further ruled that Act 17 of 2000 seeks to dilute the pre-existing democratic rights of the electorate to elect a President of their choice.As such, while the Constitution provides for representative democracy, such representative democracy cannot encroach on popular sovereignty from which it derives and which is entrenched by the requirement of the referendum.However, the High Court’s decision was appealed by the Attorney General’s Chambers and former Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman; both of whom were named as respondents in the court action. They asked that the ruling be “wholly set aside”.The outcome of this matter could also be a deciding factor as to whether Jagdeo will be the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) presidential candidate in the 2020 General Elections. (Jarryl Bryan)last_img

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