On November 24, the Chief Justice says she will hear legal arguments on whether or not the Elections Petitions filed by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance Force Change (APNU/AFC) could be nullified based on a technicality which involves serving of a summons on Bharrat Jagdeo.
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, Attorney for Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is a respondent in the matter, questioned the manner in which the petitions were served on his client and whether that was done in keeping with the rules governing election petition cases.
Mendes who is a Trinidadian, told the Court that Jagdeo who is a respondent in the matter was not properly served and the Court needs to be satisfied that there were sufficient actions to ensure that all respondents were properly served. He is contending that the failure to ensure proper service nullifies the petitions before the Court.
It is in light of this that he has indicated to the Court that he has filed an application that brings into question whether all of the rules and procedures were followed in the serving of the petition on his client.
Senior Counsel Forde told the court that it seemed Mr. Jagdeo had been evading the summons and he had to resort to the services of the court to have the summons served on Mr. Jagdeo.
Attorneys Roysdale Forde (SC) and Mayo Robertson who are representing the petitioners in the two election petition cases, had told the Chief Justice that while the two cases may arrive at the same destination in terms of the relief being sought, they would prefer separate trials so that there is no confusion.
The Chief Justice however, noted the concerns and gave an assurance that there will not be any confusion coming from her side.
Forde advised the Chief Justice that one of the two petition cases has mainly one issue and that is whether the recount order that allowed for the recount and the eventual declaration is valid.
The petition is asking among other things that Order 60 be declared unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect.
Declare that the whole of the election process was so flawed that the results that have been declared therefrom cannot be credibly declared to represent accurately the will of the electorate.
Determine and declare that the Report required by the Chief Election Officer under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act must be based on the votes counted and information furnished by the ten (10) Returning Officers from their respective ten (10) Electoral Districts which were submitted to the Chief Election Officer on the 13th day of March, 2020.
Determine and declare that the Chief Election Officer is not entitled to base his Report required by Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act on data generated from the Recount purported to be carried out under Order No. 60 of 2020.
In the second case Attorney Mayo Robertson advised that it involves reports of irregularities that came out of the recount, including the claims of irregularities and fraudulent voting and a challenging voters list among others.
The Chief Justice says she expects the second case to be a full-blown trial as witnesses will be called and will have to face questioning and cross-examination.
Robertson advised the Chief Justice that he could not at this time provide the Court with the number of witnesses that will be called since the Attorneys are currently involved in the fine-tuning of the statements from those witnesses and whether all of the statements will be presented.
The Chief Justice warned the large battery of lawyers taking part in the petitions that they should not repeat and copy the same information that might be presented in the cases as they present their arguments and responses.
The petitioners are expected to file all of their submissions by the 18th December with responses expected on or before the 5th January.
The Chief Justice pointed to reliefs sought in both Petitions 88 and 99 appear to conflict with provisions in the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act.
“In [Petition] 88 of 2020 at paragraph 13, one of the reliefs claimed is an order that the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission declare the Presidential Candidate designated on the APNU+AFC List of Candidates as the duly elected president of the Guyana in accordance with Article 177 of the Constitution,” the Chief Justice pointed out while noting that similar relief is being sought in Petition 99.
She explained, however, that Section 4 (2) of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act provides that a respondent would be a person representing a list whose interest conflicts with the petition.
“The question is whether the second respondent [David Granger] has an interest that conflicts with the petition,” she queried, while pointing to Section 27 (2) of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act.
As such, submissions with regard to issues of service and Sections 4 (2) and 27 (2) of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act are expected to be made on or before November 10 by the petitioners while the respondents are required to submit their submissions on November 24.
Hearings will be conducted on November 30 and December 1, 2020.
- Countries: Guyana
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