Given the protracted delay with the declaration of the election result, the issue of whether persons appointed by the President to be Ministers, which includes the Prime Minister, and Vice Presidents, still hold their respective offices was raised as citizens questioned, quite rightfully, whether those persons should still be referring to themselves as such and receiving salaries and other benefits connected thereto all of which is paid for by citizens.
For reference, the important Articles of the Constitution of Guyana on the issue are: 61, 101, 103, 104, 106, 112, and 183.
For the sake of simplification, Art. 104 states that the appointments of the Prime Minister, Vice-Presidents and Ministers shall have effect – which means shall be valid or in force – in “any period between a dissolution of Parliament and the day on which the next election of members of the National Assembly is held”. It is important to note that the Article did not state that the respective appointments shall have effect until the result of the election is declared, it states “the day on which the next election” is held. The day on which the election is held is appointed by the President (see Art. 61) and Granger in his capacity as President issued a Proclamation on the 1st Oct, 2019, for the holding of elections which stated that, “the day for an election under Article 60 (2) appoints 2nd March 2020 as the day on which an election of members of the National Assembly shall be held.” Simply for the sake of completeness, Granger in his capacity as President issued a Proclamation for the dissolution of Parliament the 30th December, 2019.
Even though Art. 183 outlines the circumstances in which the office of a Minister becomes vacant, Art. 104 states the period until the respective appointments shall have effect – an important distinction. With the day of the election appointed as and held on 2nd March, 2020, the Ministers, which includes the Prime Minister, and the Vice Presidents no longer hold valid appointments as at the 2nd March, 2020.
Having already had the Cabinet, including the President as a member thereof, resigned by virtue of the successful passage of the no-confidence vote in Parliament on the 21st December, 2018, this means that the only elected persons of the Government who now remain are the President, who becomes a repository of all previously appointed ministerial portfolios (see Art. 99), and the Attorney General (though not the Minister of Legal Affairs – see Art. 112), still functioning in a caretaker capacity.
Premised on the foregoing, Ministers, which includes the Prime Minister, and Vice Presidents no longer have valid appointments and are not legally entitled to receive any salaries, benefits, and use of state resources connected thereto. Any such receipt thereof would naturally necessitate the institution of legal proceedings for restitution and malfeasance in public office for persons making payments thereto.
Charles S. Ramson