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High Court will Sunday make important ruling concerning election results case

Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire will at 1:30 Sunday afternoon rule on whether she has jurisdiction to hear a case concerning High Court orders for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to verify the Region Four election results before they are declared.

With Monday being a holiday, she said the next court date could possibly be Tuesday depending on her decision on Sunday.

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) lawyer and executive member, Anil Nandlall explained briefly that once the Chief Justice finds that she has jurisdiction, he expects that the next step will be to “make the injunctions that were granted permanent.”

GECOM wants the Chief Justice to throw out the orders and pave the way for the general and regional election results to be declared and David Granger to be sworn in for a second term.

GECOM’s lawyer, Neil Boston told the High Court on Saturday afternoon that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. He says any matter connected to the election process must be dealt with by an election petition.

Mr Boston says the PPP case points to a breach of the electoral laws. “This case…the summation of the allegations by the applicant and the affidavit go towards an unlawful act that was conducted in the course of an election,” he said.

However, the PPP flew in prominent Trinidad and Tobago lawyer, Douglas Mendes to Guyana to tell the Chief Justice that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

He says that is because the verification of the Region Four results before they are declared is about following the legal process.

Mr Mendes suggested that Guyanese should not be penalised because the Region Four Returning Officer of the GECOM did not verify the results of the March 2, 2020 general elections before making a declaration. “It is not important to anyone to say ‘well let us suffer on our election official who is deliberately flouting Section 84(1) of the Representation of the People Act and let us have a government put in power’, which on the evidence, should not be there,” he said.

Mr Mendes, who was the PPP’s key lawyer in a number of politically-related cases including the validity of the PPP-sponsored December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion, said the aim is to “facilitate and ensure there is a proper election whatever the result may be.”

He disagreed with Boston on the relevance and applicability of the elections petition, saying that GECOM has not yet delivered the result.

International election observers and major western nations have called on GECOM to verify the results in keeping with the laws.