CCJ to issue order to continue ‘stay’ of Court of Appeal ruling

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will no later than Wednesday issue an order that will continue to put on hold the Court of Appeal ruling in the elections results case until it hears the matter on July 1.

The Caribbean Court of Justice through its Deputy Registrar Gizel Thomas-Roberts, in an immediate response to being notified by attorneys Anil Nandlall and Devindra Kissoon that the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield had delivered his report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) despite the fact that the Court of Appeal had stayed its Order, issued a direction all parties on record.

Thomas-Roberts stated: “I have been instructed by the Bench to inform that the Court will no later than Wednesday 24th June, 2020  issue an Order that (a)maintains the status quo until further order; (b) orders the holding of a CMC in this matter on Thursday 25th June, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. with a view towards (c) a full hearing of all the matters in dispute on Wednesday 1st July, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.”

Jagdeo moved to the CCJ asking for the Court to reverse the decision of Guyana’s Court of Appeal which Monday, by majority decision, chose to say that in determining the results of the elections the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must use “valid” votes.

Nandlall and Kissoon, lead by Douglas Mendez S.C., who represent Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali and Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, filed an application for leave to appeal to the CCJ within mere hours after the issuance of the Court of Appeal’s ruling.

As a result of the imposing filing, GECOM cancelled a meeting which was scheduled to be held at 11:00 hrs today.

L-R: Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, Attorneys Anil Nandlall and Devindra Kissoon

The CCJ will now finally determine the matters in controversy as it relates to the meaning of votes cast as per the Constitution.

Lowenfield who failed to comply with GECOM’s direction to issue his report when the David case has filed nevertheless presented a report defying the Court of Appeal’s stay of its Order raising questions as to his complicity with allegations of elections fraud.

Jagdeo and Ali took the case to the CCJ over fears that Lowenfield would use the figures he alone, in agreement with APNU, calculates after calling into question tens of thousands of votes.

Those fears were realised Tuesday when Lowenfield submitted a new report in which he dumped over 115,000 votes and gave APNU+AFC majority of the votes to form a new government even though the certified and valid votes from the recount showed the PPP winning the elections by 15, 416 votes.

Article 177 (2) of the Constitution dictates that the party with the most votes wins the elections. But because the legal order for the recount signalled the need to establish the credibility of the elections, two of three Court of Appeal judges interpreted the meaning of the Constitution to say that the party with the most “valid” votes wins the elections.

The ruling sets off a perverse interpretation by the caretaker Coalition, which is clinging to its claims that only the votes Lowenfield deems as being without question should be tabulated and form the basis of the results for the elections.

All the claims made by Lowenfield are the actual claims of the APNU+AFC.

The scrutineer for the recount process – a CARICOM High-Level team – has dispelled those claims. The team said what APNU+AFC did was to embark on a fishing expedition when it insisted that the names of dead persons and persons out of the country were marked off as having voted.

Jagdeo contended, as does the Chair of GECOM and five other parties which contested the elections, that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction, or power, to hear or determine the case as the Constitution particularly limits the Court of Appeal to only hear matters regarding the qualification of a person elected to be President. And it is this position that Jagdeo maintains and has asked the CCJ to determine before Lowenfield submits his report. As a result, a meeting which was scheduled by the Chair of GECOM for 11:00 hrs today has been cancelled.

In his application to the CCJ, Jagdeo argues that Court of Appeal was wrong when it held that the scope of Article 177(2) of the Constitution could be modified or amended by virtue of any Order of GECOM or at all, except for what it can explicitly inquire into, namely the qualification of a person elected as President.

He argued that the Court was wrong in interpreting Article 177(2)(b) by modifying the provision to include the word “valid” in circumstances where the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction so to do. He said that such a modification was both unwarranted and unnecessary as well as inimical to the complex legislative scheme for the conduct of elections as framed by the Constitution and multiple Acts of Parliament.

He further submitted that Court of Appeal’s decision contravenes the Constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers by authorising GECOM to usurp the specialised jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 163 of the Constitution, which says that questions regarding the elections should be solely determined through an elections petition in the High Court.

Jagdeo further argues that what the Court of Appeal in effect did, by considering the recount order, was to review the decision of GECOM. This, he said, is in breach of Section 140(1) of the Representation of the People Act which prohibits any court from inquiring into whether any function of GECOM has been performed validly or at all.

(See Notice of Application and Final Affidavit of Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.)

 

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