Ram withdraws application for High Court to compel GECOM to hold elections by September 18
Attorney Christopher Ram on Tuesday morning withdrew his application for the High Court to compel the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hold elections by September 18, according to Attorney General Basil Williams.
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire Tuesday morning denied a conservatory order seeking to block the continuation of the national house to house registration process but she agreed to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the process.
Ram asked the High Court to issue a conservatory order prohibiting GECOM from continuing the ongoing House to House registration exercise, an order compelling GECOM to hold elections before September 18th and a declaration that the exercise is in violation of the Constitution of Guyana and an order by the Caribbean Court of Justice.
During an initial hearing in Chambers, the Chief Justice denied the first order to block the registration while the second order to compel GECOM to name a date for elections was withdrawn, the Attorney General noted.
One of Ram’s lawyers, Anil Nandlall, said that the Chief Justice agreed that elections should be held by September 18, 2019.
In refusing the first order, however, Nandlall explained that the Chief Justice informed the Attorneys that “we [the applicants] have not satisfied her that there is enough evidence to show that GECOM is not acting to complete this process and hold elections within that timeframe.”
The September 18 deadline was derived from the CCJ’s orders which referred to the constitutional three-month timeline for the holding of an election after the passage of a No-Confidence motion.
The constitutional timeline kicked in on June 18, when the Caribbean Court of Justice, Guyana’s final appellate court, upheld the passage of the December 21 No Confidence motion.
The Chief Justice, however, allowed the order seeking a declaration that the House to House Registration exercise is in violation of the Constitution of Guyana and “the letter and spirit of the Judgement and Consequential orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice” in the recent No-Confidence cases.
The defendants – Attorney General Basil Williams, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) – were granted until July 29th to respond.
At Tuesday morning’s hearing, Attorney Neil Boston, who represented Lowenfield, asked for 14 days but this was denied.
He told the Chief Justice that he doesn’t see the need for what he described as “this indecent pace” of the matter.
Speaking with the media at his Carmichael Street, Georgetown office subsequently, the Attorney General said he believes the case is a waste of time as he noted that the matters were already dealt with by the CCJ.
“All these things were argued before the CCJ…if the CCJ had wanted to make a ruling, they would have done so. If they had wanted to make a ruling that [elections] should be held by the 18th of September, they could’ve done so. If they wanted to rule that GECOM hold elections within three months, they could have done so but they didn’t because that would be in breach of the doctrine of separation of powers for them to tell the Executive of the constitutional actors what they should do,” he said.
The Attorney said he believes “this is an attack of the CCJ.”
The case at the High Court is set for another hearing on August 2.
Thousands of persons have already registered since the house to house exercise commenced.
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party and the applicant in this matter, Chris Ram have
announced that they are not cooperating with the exercise because it will drag on beyond the September 18th deadline for elections.
A private citizen, Bibi Zeenatoun of 317 East Street, North Cummingsburg, Georgetown earlier this year also filed an application in the High Court to block the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from going forward with the house-to-house registration exercise.
However, Zeenatoun who was also represented by Nandlall, withdrew that case after the CCJ delivered its ruling.
The Chief Justice was expected to deliver a ruling in that case on July 26.
Given that the injunction to stop the exercise was today denied, Nandlall said: “I regret the decision now.”