… PPP says will not stop declaration
Attorney-at-Law Mayo Robertson, on behalf of his client, Eslyn David, has asked the Court of Appeal to prevent the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield from submitting a report of the recount results to the Chair, Justice Claudette Singh; and in so doing, prevent her from declaring the results of the National Recount. Those results place the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) well ahead of the governing coalition, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).
The filing was done yesterday, just as Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield was supposed to submit the report to the Elections Commission. No injunction was granted to halt the submission of that report, but Lowenfield refused to submit it anyway.
The Appeal Court has agreed to hear the matter at 1:30 pm today, against the respondents, the Chief Elections Officer; the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice Claudette Singh; the Guyana Elections Commission; and the Attorney General of Guyana, Basil Williams.
The notice of motion purports that the Court is to take up the exclusive jurisdiction conferred upon it by Article 177(4) of the Constitution of Guyana, to determine the question of the validity of the elections.
The motion seeks to compel the court to make a declaration that GECOM failed to act in accordance with the recount order, in that it “failed to determine a final credible count and or the credibility of the result” of the March 2 polls.
The coalition’s perspective on a “final credible count” of the election had became evident when it supported Lowenfield’s
insertion in his first report on the recount, a suggestion that GECOM should discard more than 269,619 of the 460,352 valid votes cast in the elections. Based on trumped up claims of irregularities and voter impersonation, Lowenfield’s revision would give the coalition a 68,000-vote lead and a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
In lieu of this, the Coalition would prefer if GECOM were to declare that the March 2 polls were not credible, as also asserted by Lowenfield in his first report.
This was also put to the Commission when Government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander posed a motion for annulment and fresh elections. That motion was rejected by Retired Justice Singh.
After doing so, the Chair had instructed Lowenfield to compile a report for the Commission so it could declare the elections results.
The motion filed in the Court of Appeal asks the Court to restrain Lowenfield from obeying Justice Singh’s instruction to submit his report, unless he determines the “final credible count” or the credibility of the elections.
Justice Singh had explained that GECOM could not clothe itself as a Court of Law to determine the validity of an election. She had said that such a matter would be better suited for an elections petition, a matter only the Court can adjudicate.
‘Appeal Court cannot stop a declaration’ – Datadin
Attorney-at-Law and PPP/C Candidate, Sanjeev Datadin spoke to Kaieteur News last night, explaining why he is convinced that this motion will not stop GECOM from making a declaration. The applicant asked GECOM to make several orders and a declaration, but Datadin said that the Court does not have the jurisdiction to make orders in this regard.
The motion specifically petitioned the Court to interpret the words “more votes are cast” in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution, which sets out a condition for a Presidential candidate to be deemed to be elected as President, that is “where there are two or more Presidential candidates, if more votes are cast in favour of the list in which he is designated as Presidential candidate than in favour of any other list.”
But in interpreting this section of the Constitution, the motion is depending on the Court to invoke its exclusive jurisdiction granted by Article 177 (4) to do so, Datadin told this newspaper.
“Article 177(4) is an unusual and extremely restrictive provision,” he said, in such a regard that the Court will only have the jurisdiction to determine the question of the validity of the election, if the question depends on the interpretation of the Constitution.
The only request the Court can accede to is to give its interpretation of the Constitution, the attorney said.
He added that what the coalition appears to want the Court to do is to determine that “more votes are cast” implies by “more valid votes are cast”. But Datadin explained that the Constitution is so absolute in that its language does not imply.
Even if the Appeal Court, in the unlikely scenario, rules that “valid” is implied, the matter would have to go to the High Court for it to exclusively determine, by virtue of Article 163, what constitutes a valid vote, Datadin told Kaieteur News.
The lawyer added that such a matter may be dealt with in an elections petition, which may only be adjudicated after a declaration is made. He pointed to the National Assembly Validity of Elections Act, which sets out provisions for an elections petition.
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