Compton Reid, the private citizen who filed the first of three court actions brought following the December 21 passage of the no confidence motion against the government yesterday said that he is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the case.
Reid who was present at the hearing of the matter yesterday made no attempt to hide himself. In fact it was one of his attorneys Neil Boston SC who made his presence known to the court.
When approached outside the courtroom, he did not say much. He told reporters, “We all need to await the outcome of the matter.”
When asked what propelled him to file the action he responded “I am interested in the nation, very much.”
On December 21st, a ‘yes’ vote from former government MP Charrandass Persaud to the Opposition PPP/C sponsored no-confidence motion against the government tipped the scales 33-32 in favour of the motion. Consequently, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland ruled that the motion had been carried. The government subsequently sent the Speaker a legal brief outlining six consequences of the vote and asked him to consider them and reverse his ruling. Scotland, at a sitting of the National Assembly on January 3rd, said he would not do so and urged that the court be approached to seek redress.
Attorney General Basil Williams subsequently told reporters that the government’s case will be two-fold – Persaud’s alleged disqualification from voting given his Canadian citizenship and that 34 rather than 33 votes constitute the majority required for the no-confidence motion to pass.
The citizenship aspect of the case was filed the following day by Reid who is represented by a team of lawyers headed by Senior Counsel Rex McKay and Neil Boston.
Reid who described himself as a farmer of Lot 267 Errol’s Ville, Vryman’s Erven, New Amsterdam Berbice in his urgent fixed date application which was filed on January 4 stated that at all material times, Persaud purported to be a validly elected member of the National Assembly.
This, he said, was achieved by virtue of Persaud being extracted from the APNU+AFC geographic constituency list for Region 6—East Berbice, Corentyne for the 2015 National and Regional Elections, though he knew he had allegiance, obedience and adherence as a citizen, to a foreign power, Canada.
Reid deposed in his application that Persaud had been the holder of a valid Canadian passport No. AC773625 issued by the Government of Canada on 25th October 2017, which will expire on the 25th October 2022.
This current passport he said, was a replacement of the previous passport No. JX818124, which was issued to Persaud on 29th January 2013 and which expired on 29th January 2018.
He is arguing that by virtue of Article 156 (3) (a) and (b) of the Constitution, a member of the National Assembly ought to signal to the Speaker, any intention to defect from the list from which he/she would have been extracted.
To this end, he referenced where in Article 153 (a) it states, “A member of the National Assembly elected on a list shall cease to be a member of the Assembly, if- (a) he or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted.”
He then goes on to note subsection (b) which requires that, “he or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted, his or her support for another list.”
Reid argues that under the Canadian Citizenship Act. RSC 1985 c. C-29 and its Regulations, an applicant for citizenship of Canada is obliged under Section 24 of the said Act, to swear an oath of citizenship that is stated in the Regulations of the Act, which includes swearing an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen of Canada.
On this point, Reid surmised that by virtue of his Canadian citizenship, Persaud is a person who, by his own act was under an acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power and therefore not qualified to be elected a Member of the National Assembly of Guyana and had no legal right to vote as an elected member of the National Assembly of Guyana.
It has since been confirmed that several other members of parliament who voted on December 21st are dual citizens.
The case will be called again on January 24 at 9:30 am.