GEORGETOWN Guyana, September 1, 2022 - The APNU+AFC Opposition believes that there has been foot-dragging in relation the hearing of an appeal filed on the 21st of May 2021, in relation to Chief Justice Roxane George’s decision that there is nothing unconstitutional about Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act and Order 60 (Recount Order).
As a result, on Tuesday, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde,attorney acting on behalf of the Petitioners, Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, filed a Notice of Motion in the Court of Appeal seeking an early date for the hearing and determination of the appeal filed May 31, 2021.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had relied on Order 60 and the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act to facilitate a national recount of the votes cast at the March, 2020 Elections.
It was based on the results on that recount that President Irfaan Ali was elected to Office, however, the APNU+AFC is seeking to nullify the entire Elections on the basis that the recount was illegal.
In his Affidavit, the Appellant Heston Bostwick, of Albouystown in Georgetown, told the court that in March 2020 he was one of two petitioners who filed “an Election Petition questioning whether the Election held on the 2nd day of March, 2020, were unlawfully conducted and/or whether that the result of the said Elections (if lawfully conducted) were affected or might have been affected by unlawful acts or omissions”.
He said on the 26thof April, 2021, the Justice (ag.) dismissed their Election Petition stating that “the full decision will be issued shortly.”
Following this, notice of appeal was filed on May 31, and his Attorney, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, made numerous attempts to secure an early hearing of the appeal but to no avail.
Mr. Bostwick told the Court. that "19 months have elapsed from the date of the delivery of the said judgement,” creating "an inordinate delay between the date of the delivery of the decision and the present time" and that his "right of appeal has been rendered nugatory and futile by the failure to obtain a “full decision”.
He pointed out that on March 17, 2022, his Attorney dispatched a letter to the Registry of the Court of Appeal requesting an urgent hearing on the ground that the case is of national importance but was subsequently told that the Appeal could not be fixed because the Registry was not in possession of a copy of the written decision of the Court.
Anxious to have the appeal heard, Mr. Bostwick attached a YouTube link (https://youtu.be/ZDKADBE4_u0.\ ) with the delivery of the judgement handed down on April 26, 2021.
“…my right of appeal has been rendered nugatory and futile by the failure to obtain a ‘full decision,’” he told the Court, adding that "the issuance of any full decision after the expiration of a period of 16 (Sixteen) months would amount to a breach of my right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as guaranteed by Article 144 (8) of the Constitution of Guyana."
Bostic is maintaining in his affadavit that "the failure to have a hearing of my Appeal, which relates to a matter of the greatest national importance, that is to say, the legitimacy of the Government of Guyana remains unresolved.
Mr. Thorne and Mr. Bostwick are of the opinion that the Chief Justice erred in law when she ruled that Section 22 of the Elections Law (Amendment) Act 2000 and Order 60 made thereunder were not in violation of the Constitution.
Through their attorney, they have argued that the application of Section 22 and Order 60 during the 2020 Elections conflicted with Article 177 of the Constitution. It was further submitted that Section 22 and Order 60 by their amplitude of power, contravened the doctrine of the Separation of Powers inherent in the Constitution.
"I maintain that the Elections held on the 2nd day of March, 2020, were unlawfully held and that it is a failure of the Judicial System, as well as a breach of the democratic principles set out in the Constitution to have an Appeal pending whilst 16 (Sixteen) months would have expired from the date of the decision of the Court below which had challenged the results of an Election and the installation of a patently illegitimate Government,"Bostwick said in his affadavit.
Mr. Keith Lowenfield, the former Chief Elections Officer; Mr. David Granger, the Representative of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU+AFC) and Representative of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo are among the 13 respondents in the elections case.