Mar 07, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – In a 22-page document submitted to the High Court, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC., explains that “the three pronged attack,” launched against the March 2, 2020 elections outcome has, inter alia, failed to discredit the constitutionality of the elections laws or the lawfulness of recount order, which led to the triumph of the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).
In short, the AG said that the remaining Elections Petition before the High Court is doomed to fail. Previously, the AG and his legal team had successfully challenged the validity of first petition on the failure of the opposing parties to execute service on the main respondent, (former President, David Granger) within the legal time limit.
In that petition, petitioners Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick asked the court to determine among other things, questions regarding whether the elections have been lawfully conducted or whether the results have been, or may have been affected by any unlawful act or omission and in consequence thereof, whether the seats in the National Assembly have been lawfully allocated.
In this case however, petitioners Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse contended that the elections were unlawfully conducted and/or that the results, (if lawfully conducted), were affected or might have been affected by unlawful acts or omissions.
In his response to the petition, Nandlall explicated that in this case, the applicants’ contentions are set out on the basis of three issues: whether Section 22 of the Elections Laws Amendment Act is unconstitutional and the recount Order 60 is invalid, null, void and of no effect; the returning officers electoral district declaration could not have been set aside; and GECOM’s actions were unlawful and encroached upon under Article 163 of the Constitution.
Outlining a plethora of legal authorities and examples by which the petitioners are failing to prove their case, AG Nandlall explained that the lawyers from the opposing side have failed to rebut the constitutionality of Section 22 of ELAA of 2000 or established that Order 60 was in any manner whatsoever ultra vires or unlawful.
Further, the AG noted the Elections Petition purports to be filed pursuant to Article 163 of the Constitution of Guyana and the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act and there is absence of the material facts in the case and no foundation being laid in the petition to establish any grounds upon which the March 2, 2020 elections can be vitiated.
Nandlall stressed that Article 163(1) of the Constitution speaks to the jurisdiction of the High Court to determine questions relating to membership of the National Assembly and elections.
Further, he noted that it cannot be disputed that the conduct of March 2, 2020 elections is not being challenged by the petition.
“This petition, therefore, falls within the second category of challenge, that is to say, that an unlawful act or omission has affected or may have affected the elections results. That unlawful act is Order 60 and the recount process, which flowed therefrom… A petition that challenges an election on this latter ground must not only establish that the challenged act is unlawful but that it has or may have affected the results of the elections,” Nandlall said in his submissions.
Added to that, he said that it is already submitted that Order 60 and the recount process are valid and lawful.
“Secondly, this petition fails to establish any satisfactory evidence that the said order 60 and recount process have affected or may have affected the result of election. All that the recount process did was to recount ballots case on voting day,” Nandlall continued.
According to him there is no evidence before this court impugning those ballots so as to discount them from being recounted. He submitted too, “There is no evidence of any variation between the first count which took place at the end of the poll and the count which took place under Order 60. Indeed even if it is found that the recount and Order 60 are unlawful there is still no evidence that either or both of them materially affected the results of the elections”.
As such, the AG concluded that the current petition is destined to fail.
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