APNU+AFC urged to take responsibility for delay in hearing election petition appeal
Petitioners backed by the APNU+AFC Coalition were Monday urged to take responsibility for the delay in hearing the appeal for election petition (88/20-P) which was dismissed by the High Court in April 2021.
The urging came from Trinidadian Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes even as the Court of Appeal entertained a Motion filed by APNU+AFC Parliamentarian and Attorney Roysdale Forde, SC, for an early date for case management and hearing to determine the appeal.
The APNU+AFC continues to challenge the legality of the 2020 elections although both of their petitions have been dismissed by the High Court and a recount confirmed in August 2020 that Irfaan Ali won the presidency and his PPP/C Party the seat of government.
Forde Monday reminded Chancellor (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and two other Appellate Judges – Justices Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory – that although the decision to dismiss the petition (88) was delivered some 19 months ago and the appeal filed soon after, he has been unable to have a record for an appeal put together and placed before the court.
The Chief Justice had ruled clearly that there was no breach or violation or non-compliance by the Guyana Election Commission such as to make the elections a sham or a travesty as claimed by the petitioners.
But Forde said Monday that the documents necessary for a record of appeal were still at the High Court and not with the Court of Appeal.’
He claimed too that the petitioners have suffered substantial prejudice since the full written decision of Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George is yet to be prepared and laid over, an eventuality he said could adjust the notice and grounds for the appeal.
“There is no failure on the appellant’s behalf in relation to keeping their obligations with the rules of the Court,” Forde but Mendes disagreed.
The Trinidadian Senior Counsel who is representing Jagdeo as General Secretary of the ruling PPP/C told the Court that Forde had every opportunity to file the motion before now; as a matter of fact, the motion to expedite the appeal could have been filed along with the appeal.
“This issue now arises because the appellant did nothing until the 30th of August 2022 to progress the appeal. It took them 19 months to approach the court,” Mendes pointed out.
He accused Forde of blaming everyone except the appellants themselves for the position they find themselves in.
He said the absence of a written judgment from the CJ is of no consequence because there is a transcript of the detailed oral judgment.
“That document is available.”
He asked the Court to dismiss the motion on the premise of inaction by the petitioners for the last 18 months.
In the end, the Chancellor agreed that in the public’s interest, matters of this nature should be heard and determined in a timely manner.
Forde has been instructed to file his notice of appeal within the next seven days and was given one month to prepare the record of appeal.
The Court will sit again on November 03, 2022 for reports.
A second petition (99) filed by the APNU+AFC coalition was also dismissed by the High Court and appealed.
That petition is currently before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) seeking a determination on the Appellate Court’s Jurisdiction to hear the appeal since it was dismissed on procedural grounds.