Chief Justice to rule Monday in case to invalidate recount
After listening to five hours of arguments Friday, Chief Justice Roxane George announced that she will rule Monday at 4 p.m. in the case seeking to invalidate the national vote recount.
The Applicant, Misenga Jones, approached the Court to say that the declaration for the ten electoral districts which were used by the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield to prepare a report on March 13 should stand and should be used to declare the results of the March 02 elections.
Such a report would take into consideration the District Four declaration by Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo. His declaration was dismissed by parties and local and international observers as fraudulent.
If Mingo’s numbers are used with the others, it would ensure David Granger and his Coalition APNU+AFC remains in office, though the official documents from both the original vote count and the recount show that the PPP secured over 15, 000 votes more than APNU+AFC.
The Applicant, through her attorney Senior Counsel John Jeremie, contended that complaints into the elections are matters for an elections petition and so the legal recount order was unconstitutionally made under Section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act.
But the Court of Appeal, in a recent judgment in a case brought by Ulita Moore, a candidate for APNU+AFC, Justices Dawn Gregory-Barnes and Brassington Reynolds rejected the argument that Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act was unconstitutional and held further that “the order was not an unconstitutional order”.
Further, the recent judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) noted that “unless and until an election court decides otherwise, the votes already counted by the recount process as valid votes are incapable of being declared invalid by any person or authority.”
Attorney Kashir Khan, arguing for Change Guyana and The Citizenship Initiative said that the principle of “res judicata” prevents the Court from addressing an issue.
The principle says that a party is prevented from bringing subsequent proceedings to challenge an outcome that has already been decided (cause of action estoppel).
Attorney Sanjeev Datadin, for the United Republic Party, agreed that the issues have all been determined and are subject to what was decided before.
Attorney Kamal Ramkarran, attorney for Dr Mark France of A New and United Guyana, reasoned that in arriving at its decision, the CCJ determined issues which now estop the Applicant from asserting contradictory facts and principles of law to arrive at a different result concerning the validity of votes and the validation exercise engaged in by the Chief Election Officer in preparing his report, as well as to the validity of Order 60 of 2020 and the recount numbers produced pursuant to those results.
“All of these issues having been determined by final judgment, the Applicant is estopped from relying upon them and her application must accordingly fail,” Ramkarran stated in his written submission to the Court.