The Caribbean Court of Justice, or CCJ, has ruled that limiting presidential terms to just two terms in office in Guyana is not unconstitutional. The move prevents former Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo, who previously served two presidential terms, from ever running again.
The historic ruling was made in the Trinidad-based court, countering a verdict handed down by former acting Chief Justice Ian Chang two years ago. It also upheld the decision made by the Court of Appeal.
Cedric Richardson, the private citizen who brought forth the challenge to the term limits in December 2014, contested that the 2001 constitutional amendments, which limited presidential terms to just two and outlined the professional qualifications each presidential candidate should possess, curtailed “the democratic rights and freedom of the electorate.”
He also argued that the move would, in effect, prevent someone like Jagdeo from ever running for a third term as president.
Judge Chang ruled in favor of Richardson, noting that presidential term limits were unconstitutional without convening a national referendum for the people to decide.
Outgoing CCJ President, Judge Denis Byron, however, explained his decision, saying that Guyana's constitutional amendments were “validly enacted.”
The term limit challenge emerged in the lead up to the 2015 general elections, which the People's Progressive Party, or PPP, lost to the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change, or APNU+AFC Coalition after retaining office for 23 years, according to Caribbean 360.
It was during this period that Jagdeo served two presidential terms. His presidency was marked by significant advancements in education, healthcare, land reform and other public sectors, as well as initiatives to help combat climate change.
Jagdeo has received several honorary doctorate degrees, including from the University of Central Lancashire (Britain) and Patrice Lumumba People's Friendship University (Russia).