Political coalition agreement illegal, says Guyana attorney general

AnilNandlall-1GEORGETOWN, 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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