The Caribbean Court of Justice started to hear the Guyana Presidential Term Limit’s case this morning and the state’s appeal of the ruling in the matter.
Former Guyana Chief Justice Ian Chang had ruled that the Presidential term limit was unconstitutional, although it was passed and put into law by the full National Assembly.
The Guyana Court of Appeal by a margin of 2-1 had agreed with the ruling by the former Chief Justice.
Now the case has found itself before the CCJ as the State maintains that the amendments to the Act, that barred a President from seeking a third term, are constitutional.
Attorney General, Senior Counsel Basil Williams led the state’s case before the CCJ this morning with two senior Barbadian Attorneys hired by his Chambers, at his side.
Mr. Williams in his presentation explained to the Court that it was the previous government that took the legislation to the National Assembly and enjoyed the Assembly’s full support in adding term limits to the Presidency.
He said that process was as a result of a Constitutional Reform process that had taken place in Guyana. The Judges asked that he supply information about that process to the Court since it was not part of the original submission.
He also told the Court that the ruling by the Courts in Guyana was flawed and focused much of his presentation on the Articles of the Constitution that were amended to block the third term.
Williams was grilled by the CCJ Judges and several questions were raised during his submissions. Also appearing on behalf of the state, Barbadian Senior Counsel Hal Gallop focused much of his submission on sovereignty of the Constitution and the amendments that allowed the changes to the law. He said it is his belief that the amendments were done in the proper way as prescribed by the same constitution.
Top Trinidad and Tobago Lawyer, Douglas Mendes appeared on behalf of the Laing Avenue man, Cedric Richardson, who took the case to the local courts and is now fighting to have the rulings by the local courts upheld.
Mr. Mendes in his submissions said the Guyana courts were correct in their ruling. He made reference to a referendum needed to take place rather than the Parliament amending the Constitution on its own.
He was also questioned extensively by the Judges.
The amendment to the Constitution was passed in the year 2000. It was until 2014 that concerns were taken to the Court by the Laing Avenue man who is not well known. It has long been suspected that the former PPP administration was behind the Court move to allow former President Jagdeo to seek a third term. He is the only former President who would benefit from a ruling that quashes the block on a third term run.