On Friday, the Guyana Elections Commission took a decision to go ahead with the national recount of the votes in the March 2 elections. However, this has been placed on hold pending the outcome of the decision by the Appeals Court.
Appellate Court, consisting of Judge Dawn Gregory, High Court Judge Brassington Reynolds and Appellate Judge Rishi Persaud, told the appellant as well as lawyers representing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and GECOM’s Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, that the court would hand down its decision on Sunday at 11am.
The appellant, Ulita Moore who was a candidate on the list of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), was not happy with the Full Court’s decision that it had no authority to review the decision of GECOM regarding the recounting of ballots as per Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act, and appealed the decision of the High Court.
Moore through her lawyers Trinidad and Tobago Attorney Keith Scotland and Grenadian Dr Francis Alexis, QC along with Roysdale Forde, is asking the court to set aside the ruling of the Chief Justice, and allow her injunction application, blocking the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from carrying out a national recount of votes to be heard in the high court.
Through their submissions, the lawyers established that unlike the CJ’s ruling, Moore’s application is not for an elections petition and that the High Court is duly suitable to hear her case.
Moore maintains that the decision taken by the GECOM to carry out a national recount of the votes of the March 2, General and Regional Election, goes against the constitution and the country’s electoral laws.
Another of Moore’s lawyers, Dr. Francis Alexis of Grenada, argued that the constitutional role of the GECOM Chair and GECOM was about to be usurped by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) high-level team invited by President Granger and opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo to supervise the recount.
He said the core issue taken by Moore is whether the Chairman and GECOM can be prevented from performing the duty repose in them and the Chairman to declare a person be the president of Guyana under Article 177 of the Constitution and, on GECOM to declare a winning list of candidates under Section 99 of the Representation of the People’s Act.
He said; therefore, Moore’s issue is not an elections dispute that would require an elections petition. “Your honours, not every question regarding an election is an election dispute to which applies an election petition,” Dr. Alexis told the Court.
He said Ulita Moore’s complaint is about GECOM’s non-compliance with the Supreme Law of the Republic in Article 177 Paragraph 2.
“Furthermore, Ulita Moore is complaining that such non-performance is aimed deliberately to achieve cooperation to an agreement, which, she contends violates several provisions of the constitution.”
He said his client is not questioning the results of the elections but is rather seeking an interpretation of the Constitution which remains fundamental to this state.
On that point Justice Gregory queried of Dr Alexis if the Court finds that it has jurisdiction to supervise GECOM, whether it should be to merely point it to Article 162 of the Constitution that its role is to independently manage elections or to direct the commission to perform its functions under Article 177.
In that regard, Dr Alexis pointed to a Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decision in Professor Eddy Ventose’s right to vote in Barbados’ elections.
The PPP’s lawyer Douglas Mendes representing Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, said under Guyana’s constitution it’s only an election court by way of an election petition, that hears issues concerning unlawful acts and omissions instead of being dealt with at an intermediate stage.
He cites Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act which prohibits any court from enquiring into deliberations and decisions of the commission.
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