Court dismisses PPP/C case to ‘strike out’ AFC’s names from list
The High Court today dismissed a case brought by People’s Progressive Party / Civic (PPP/C) against two officers of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), claiming that residents were misled into signing an Alliance for Change (AFC) list in Berbice.
According to a statement from GECOM, Justice Navindra Singh dismissed the court case brought against the Chief Election Officer of GECOM, Keith Lowenfield and the Returning Officer, Bloomfield /Whim, Orlando Persaud.
The application made by a PPP/C Candidate, Shafraz Beekham, claimed that he and 49 others were misled by Alliance for Change (AFC) representatives into signing as nominators on the AFC’s List of Candidates.
The Judge on October 11 had ordered a police investigation to determine whether the claims were valid.
The report was presented by the Judge to the Court today and after careful review, he indicated that there was no evidence of fraud, trickery or threat, GECOM said.
Against this backdrop, Justice Singh dismissed the matter, noting that there was no basis to ask the Chief Elections Officer to ‘strike out’ the names of the nominators from the AFC’s Lists of Candidates.
The PPP/C subsequently released a statement condemning the ruling. See full statement below:
Electoral democracy and the citizens’ right to vote in Guyana suffered yet another blow today. A Police Report submitted to Justice Navindra Singh in the High Court in Berbice totally misrepresented what the residents of the Whim/Bloomfield Local Authority Area claimed they told to the Police during interviews that were supposed to be used to compile that report.
It would be recalled that the Judge ordered a Police Report into allegations made by over 50 (fifty) persons that their names were procured by misrepresentation and trickery on lists supporting AFC candidates.
The persons who were present in Court explained to the media after the Court hearing that the Report did not accurately reflect what they said to Police Officers who interviewed them. This was confirmed by officials of the PPP/C who were present when these interviews were conducted by the Police.
Significantly the Police in the Report claimed that they were unable to locate Abraham Nagamootoo, Mavis Nagamootoo and other members of the Nagamootoo family and other AFC Candidates who were implicated in the statements given by the residents.
There is no doubt that the Police investigation and the ensuing Report were perverted by and contaminated with political interference.
Despite the fact that the Report was clearly tailored to meet a particular conclusion, it still contains various damning statements: for example, all of the persons interviewed and whose names are on the AFC list of backers made it absolutely clear that they did not know that they were signing any document supportive of the AFC; that they are not supporting the AFC and that they all requested that their names be removed from those particular lists.
This finding is repeated 12 (twelve) times in the Report and on each occasion, these persons asserted their support for the PPP/C. Worse yet there is one person who said that he did not sign at all.
In the end, no matter how much you turn it or twist it, the bottom line is these AFC candidates have 50 (fifty) persons who are on public record saying to the world that they are not supporting the candidates they are supposed to be backing. Yet the Court refused to interfere with this violation of these persons fundamental right to support a political party of their choice by removing their names from those lists.
People’s Progressive Party