CCJ to go ahead with Appeal on Wednesday; will rule on jurisdiction after receiving submissions

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In a case management conference on Thursday, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) noted its intention to hear the appeal filed by the opposition People’s Progressive Party, challenging the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to hear the motion filed by private citizen Eslyn David.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that in determining the results of the elections, the country’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, must do so based on who received the most “valid” votes.

The applicants, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and PPP’s Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali and all respondents in the matter, which include the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition and the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh have been given timelines for the submission of all written submissions.

The CCJ, headed by President, Justice Adrian Saunders will hear oral submissions on Wednesday, July 1 commencing at 09:00h.

The CCJ has not decided whether it has jurisdiction but will do so after all submissions are received.

Thursday’s case management conference was intended to determine the processes to be adopted to have the matter heard.

President Saunders told both the applicant and the respondents that the CCJ will be looking to rule on whether Guyana’s Court of Appeal had jurisdiction to entertain the motion filed by David.

Also, the CCJ has been asked to consider if the Court of Appeal lacked such jurisdiction what is the consequences of that through the CCJ and also if the Court of Appeal had rightfully assumed jurisdiction then also what are the consequences.

The CCJ has also been asked to look into whether the Court of Appeal exceeded its Jurisdiction in its ruling.

When written submissions are made, Justice Saunders made it clear that the CCJ does not want to have repetitious submissions or those that delve into matters not particularly relevant.

“We believe that your submissions can be captured in no more than 10 pages…” Saunders said.

He asked both the applicant and the respondents to be assured that the CCJ will not give regard to anything which is being said outside the court and does not feature as relevant as part of the proceedings.

Notwithstanding, the CCJ said nothing should be done to prejudice the issues before the court and that the status quo remains.

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

Jagdeo and Ali took the case to the CCJ over fears that the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield would use the figures he alone, in agreement with APNU+AFC, calculated after calling into question tens of thousands of votes.

Those fears were realised last 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.

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