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GUYANA | Use Recount Order to declare election results says High Court

  • Written by Wiredja Newsdesk
  • Published in Justice
Featured Chief Justice Roxanne George has dismissed the application by private citizen Misenga Jones seeking to prevent a declaration of the final election results using the votes from the recount. Chief Justice Roxanne George has dismissed the application by private citizen Misenga Jones seeking to prevent a declaration of the final election results using the votes from the recount.
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 20, 2020 - Chief Justice Roxanne George has dismissed an application by private citizen Misenga Jones seeking to prevent a declaration of the final election results using the votes from the recount.

The Chief Justice said she based her judgement on decisions by the local and Caribbean Court of Appeal.

She made it clear that “the 10 declarations cannot be resurrected at this point in time.” She said only the recount data can be used to declare the results of the polls.

In her one hour judgment, the Chief Justice ruled that the Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter and in so doing found that the recount cannot be considered to be invalid. She said the recount was endorsed by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

The Chief Justice said the recount order did not create a new election regime and its creation following the agreement of the President and the Opposition Leader was within the powers of the Guyana Elections Commission.

Having found the order to be valid, the Chief Justice said the recount could not therefore be considered to be invalidated and the results from the recount would have overtaken the declared results by the returning officers.

She agreed with the GECOM Chair’s directions to the Chief Elections Officer to compile his final report based on the votes from the recount.

The Chief Justice said it must be made clear that the Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield is not a lone ranger and therefore his actions must be guided by the Elections Commission.

She said the Chief Election Officer does not have a constitutional mandate, adding that it is the Chairperson and the Commission that have the Constitutional mandate.

Therefore, the Chief Justice noted, given the recount order and the directions of the Chairperson of the Commission, only data from the recount can be used for the compilation of that final report.

The 10 declarations that were made back in March, she said, cannot be resurrected.

The Chief Justice was also clear in her ruling that there can no longer be an impasse at the Commission between the Chairman and the Chief Election Officer and the CEO is subject to the direction and control of the Commission.

The Chief Justice chided those who were seeking re-litigate public interest cases. She said Order 60 that facilitated the Guyana Elections Commission’s recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections is valid.

She said contrary to arguments by lawyers for Ms. Jones, the position by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is that it “explicitly endorsed” Order 60.

She dismissed the application sought by Misenga Jones and also made mention of many of the issues that were raised in the application already being addressed by higher Courts.

The Attorney for the applicant has since indicated that the matter will be appealed as early as tomorrow. He asked for undertakings to be given by the Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Keith Lowenfield and the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh that no action would be taken to disturb the status quo.

Attorney General, Basil Williams endorsed Mr. Forde’s  intention and signaled that the matter would be finally settled  right up to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The Attorneys for the GECOM Chair and the Chief Elections Officer have said once a matter is before the Court, the Chairperson and the CEO will continue to act how they have acted in the past when matters are before the Court.

Guyana has been awaiting the final election results for the past four months.

  • Countries: Guyana