GUYANA | Case Management in Election Petition # 88 begins on Tuesday November 1

GUYANA | Case Management in Election Petition # 88 begins on Tuesday November 1

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct. 26, 2022 - Case Management in Election Petition # 88 is expected to begin in the Guyana Court of Appeal on Tuesday November 1, 2022,  following a 19-month delay.

The election petition Appeal by the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), challenges the April 2021 decision of the High Court that there was nothing unconstitutional about Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act and Order 60 (Recount Order),  which enabled the electoral victory by the People's Progressive Party Civic.

Bharrat Jagdeo through his attorney attorney Douglas Mendes, tried yet again to have the petition dismissed however, they were  rebuffed by  the Appeals Court which said that “ in the public’s interest, and the wider interest of justice, matters of this nature should be heard and should be determined in a timely manner.” 

Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings supported by Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud, said: “A party or an applicant should not be turned away from the seat of justice given the nature of this matter and, therefore, in the interest of justice we will grant the application, as filed or sought by (attorney) Mr (Roysdale) Forde.”

“But whether the failure to conduct and prosecute the appeal with due dispatch lies in the bosom of the counsel for the appellant…or whether it lies at the feet of the judicial system itself… is an issue that will have to be investigated. But nevertheless, a party or the appellant should not be turned away from the seat of justice,” the Chancellor Justice Cummings said.

The election petition seeks to nullify the results of the March 2, 2020 elections because of non-compliance with Guyana’s constitution and electoral laws relating  to the conduct of those polls by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

In applying for a speedy hearing of the appeal on behalf of the applicants Heston Bostwick and Claudette Thorne, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde told the court that 19-months after the Court’s decision, there was only a draft transcript of the Chief Justice’s decision. 

“Your honour, we respectfully submit that we would have suffered up to now, at this stage, a substantial prejudice by the failure to have the full decision made and laid over before the court, upon which we could first establish and access the record of the appeal,” Senior Counsel Forde said. 

He told the Court that the appellants could not be blamed for the delay as, “at the time of the ruling, the Chief Justice specifically indicated that her full decision would follow, however, the full judgment is still pending.”

However,  Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, who is representing Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo – the fourth named respondent – admitted that given the nature of the appeal, it ought to be heard urgently, noting that the case has implications for the composition of the National Assembly.

The appellants are contending that the Recount Order which facilitated the national vote recount was unconstitutional.

Election Petition 99 is yet to be heard as this was thrown out by the High court on a procedural technicality and was appealed by the petitioners. 

The Guyana Court of Appeal (COA) had unanimously ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the decision of the Chief Justice. The PPP appealed that COA decision to the CCJ.

The CCJ ruled by a majority that the decision by Guyana's Chief Justice Roxanne George to throw out Election Petition 99 on the technicality that former President David Granger was served late, cannot be appealed. 

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has however vowed to resubmit the petition to be heard by court. "Election Petition 99 contains significant evidence of voter fraud in the March 2020 general and regional elections.

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