The government has reacted with grave concern to Chief Justice Ian Chang’s ruling which has squashed the presidential two term limit. The administration has now expressed fears over the impact the ruling could have on the reforms which occurred during the 1999 – 2001 period, even while the PPP was in office.
To this end, the APNU+AFC administration has signaled its intention to appeal the High Court ruling which was handed down on Thursday by Chang in which he considered the term limit for presidents to be unconstitutional.
Attorney General Basil Williams and former House Speaker Raphael Trotman both hinted the APNU+AFC government’s intent to take the matter before an appellate Court, likely the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for final determination.
Trotman told reporters hours after the ruling was publicized that while Chang’s ruling was disappointing it was not surprising. “We are well aware that he had his decision prepared before elections and what it would have been but I’m happy that good sense prevailed and he didn’t do it then,” Trotman explained.
Chang’s ruling paves the way for a person who has already severed for two terms as President to run for the Presidency again unless the ruling is appealed or a referendum takes place.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo who is the soon to be Opposition Leader is the only former President who is still alive and who would have already served two terms in office.
“Something like this which goes to the heart of our constitutional framework has to be tested by the highest Court which is the CCJ,” Trotman lamented.
He further explained that Thursday’s decision has likely implications for all the reforms which came under the Herdmanston reform process during 1999 to 2001.
Trotman said because of this ruling, several Rights Commissions and the Ethnic Relations Commissions may “fall under the hammer.”
“You may be thinking you’re going after one provisions but really and truly this ruling, if allowed to stand, will wash away all the reforms put in place during the Herdmanston reform process. This decision has far reaching implications and cuts across the full gamut of reforms that both government and opposition with the support of CARICOM put in place.”
In December 2014, Georgetown resident Cedric Richardson filed a writ in the High Court challenging the two term limit and the manner in which the constitution was amended.
He contended that the limit was unconstitutional and the amendment to the law which was done without a referendum but rather by a two/thirds majority in the National Assembly was also illegal.
In the ruling delivered by Chang, Cedric’s contention has been upheld.
When the writ was filed Jagdeo had denied any involvement and said he was not interested in being elected to a third term in office.
Jagdeo had also said he was not pursuing any further appointment to an elected constitutional office or post in Guyana but months later his name appeared on the People’s Progressive Party list of candidates for the May 11, 2015 elections. He is now expected to be the Leader of the Opposition now that the PPP has been removed from office by the electorate.