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PPP wants High Court to uphold GECOM decision for vote recount; asks for Statements of Poll

Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall says the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) decision to conduct a national recount was legally made despite the fact that the ten District Returning Officers had already tabulated and declared their results.

“Our case is, as set out in the affidavit, that GECOM has made a decision within its powers, a decision that is lawful, a decision that is reasonable, a decision that is fair and expedient in the circumstance which is for there to be a recount and the Court cannot really interfere with that decision unless and until it can be shown that that decision is an unlawful one and I don’t think the other side can show that,” said Nandlall who is representing the People’s Progressive Party ‘s (PPP) Representative of the List, Bharrat Jagdeo,

He noted that that decision which was made on March 15, 2020 was unanimous and that GECOM has the power to overrule decisions by subordinate officers.

However, GECOM was blocked by A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change’s (APNU+AFC) candidate, Ulita Moore’s injunction from conducting the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-supervised recount on the grounds that the Returning Officers had already declared their results.

Nandlall and Senior Counsel, Neil Boston are, however, at odds over Jagdeo’s application for GECOM to produce the Statements of Poll for Region Four, with the political party’s lawyer arguing that the request was made as a precautionary measure while Boston is contending that the production of those documents in court is for an elections petition. “The crux of the matter lies in the Statements of Polls which are in the custody of GECOM and we feel if that is produced, that can go a far way in resolving the controversy but let me hasten to add that our case is not really based on that,” Nandlall told News-Talk Radio Guyana.

High Court Judge, Franklyn Holder will Tuesday morning hear the application for discovery – that is Jagdeo’s application for the Region Four Statements of Poll to be produced in court should they be required to prove that Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo did not follow the law and Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire’s orders on how the tabulation must be done.

Boston is representing Moore, in her application for a judicial review of GECOM’s decision to order a Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-supervised recount of all the votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. He bluntly rejected Jagdeo’s request for the poll statements to be disclosed. “There is no such thing as discovery. You can’t want to bring through the backdoor something that is expressly shut out from coming through the front door in a process like this. That has to be done by way of (an) elections petition,” Boston said.

Nandlall said Justice Holder approved an unopposed application by the PPP to consolidate its case with Moore’s. With Mingo not being found, Justice Holder orders Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield to accept service for that Returning Officer.

Lawyers for Moore and the PPP indicated that Justice Holder could hand down his decision on the judicial review next week after he hears arguments on Saturday.