Less than two weeks before he officially retires Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang, returned to the bench and
overruled a summons filed to strike out the Elections Petition, filed on behalf of the People’s Progressive Party Civic PPP/C.
The acting Chief Justice (CJ) has been presiding over the matter which seeks to challenge the validity of the outcome of the recently held Regional and General elections since last June.
Chang, who has been on leave since December, is expected to officially retire at the end of this month.
The petition was filed on behalf of Opposition Member of Parliament Ganga Persaud. In the petition, the applicant (Persaud), who was appointed Elections Agent on the List of Candidates for the PPP/C, claimed that the elections were “unlawfully conducted” and that the result of the elections was affected or might have been affected by unlawful acts or omissions.
According to the document, Persaud named the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, and leaders of the eight political parties which contested the last elections, as respondents in the matter.
Lowenfield, through his Attorney, Roysdale Forde, had subsequently filed a summons to strike out the petition. Forde had contended that sufficient material facts have not been provided in the petition challenging the recently concluded elections.
The Attorney held that the petition is frivolous and vexatious. He requested that the elections petition be struck out on the grounds that sections of the petition failed to disclose reasonable cause of action.
During an in chamber hearing yesterday, Justice Chang essentially ruled that the summons to strike out the Petition was premature and therefore the Court should proceed in hearing the petition.
However, following the hearing, Lowenfield‘s Attorney, Forde, noted that the decision in his opinion was highly flawed and it is likely that an appeal will be filed.
In a Petition filed last year, Persaud a PPP/C Member of Parliament underscored that the elections were not held in conformity with the Constitution of Guyana and the Representation of the Peoples’ Act, Chapter 1:03. As such, the opposition essentially requested a recount of all ballot boxes for the last elections and fresh elections were also called for.
The PPP/C had claimed that the entire electoral process was flawed; that it contained many procedural errors and instances of fraudulent and/or suspicious actions. “Unrest, fake Statements of Poll (SOPs) and multiple voting were among several causes cited when the PPP/C filed its elections petition.”
The presence of “huge mobs” at several polling stations and other strategic places, particularly in Region Four, were also cited by the party as another cause for intimidation and fear which in turn “rendered it impossible for polling, counting agents and duly appointed candidates to carry out their duties and functions properly.”
At a previous hearing, Jamaican Attorney Abraham Dabdoub, was retained on behalf of the petitioner (Persaud). He presented arguments in response to the claims outlined by Forde that the Petitions should be struck out. The court is currently in the process of hearing the interlocutory applications (summons) before proceeding into the substantive matters of the petition.
Three summonses have since been filed in relation to the elections; among them is a request by Attorney Anil Nandlall for a court order directing the Chief Elections Officer to produce the parcels of all elections papers and documents, including those he received from the Returning Officer of each Electoral Division under section 102 of the Representation of the People Act for inspection and examination for the purpose of the Elections Petition.
These would include all the electoral lists containing the names of the persons entitled to vote, all issued ballots, all unused ballots, all votes cast by electors, all Statements of Poll issued at specified Polling Divisions; all certificates of counting issued in respect to the votes cast at each and every Polling Division, and all polling books used at each and every polling station.
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