Two proclamations officially setting the date for the holding of national and regional elections have been published in the Official Gazette after being backdated.
The proclamations are in the Official Gazette, dated January 24, 2015 but attorney Christopher Ram says that his investigations revealed that up to Tuesday the Law Library, the Registry of the Supreme Court and the Parliament Library did not have a copy of the Legal Supplement bearing the date. Ram, in a letter in today’s Stabroek News, stated that he checked with Office of the President and learnt that the “impugned Gazette” was delivered to them on February 10. “Clearly the Gazette containing the two Proclamations was backdated for reasons known only to the President, Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Mr. Anil Nandlall whose face adorns the Official Gazette page,” he said.
“With this kind of conduct … we should not be surprised at the state of our country,” Ram added, before also noting that proclamations dissolving the Parliament and the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) have still not been published.
The Government Information Agency (GINA) had said on January 26 that President Donald Ramotar had signed the proclamation declaring May 11, 2015 as the date for the elections and that they would be soon gazetted as stipulated by the Constitution.
The announced date is not official until it is published in the Official Gazette.
Article 61 of the Constitution states that “An election of members of the National Assembly under article 60 (2) shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation….” This is interpreted to mean that once the dissolution date is named, elections have to be held within three months.
It had been argued by Ram that February 10th , 2015 should be considered as the end of the six-month prorogation allowed under the constitution and therefore if another prorogation proclamation wasn’t issued by President Donald Ramotar then Parliament should be dissolved.
Ramotar prorogued Parliament on November 10 , 2014 and might therefore be counting six months from that date which would take the end of the prorogation period to May 10, 2015. Ram has however cited Article 69 which he says would effectively mean that the prorogation ended yesterday.
Article 69 (1) says: Each session of Parliament shall be held at such place within Guyana and shall begin at such time (not being later than six months from the end of the preceding session if Parliament has been prorogued or four months from the end of that session if Parliament has been dissolved) as the President shall appoint by proclamation.
Ram has argued that the preceding session of Parliament ended on August 10, 2014 when the House went into recess and six months from that date would be February 10, 2015.