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Don’t rush to recount, let the Court system work -Ulita Moore tells Bharrat Jagdeo

Attorneys-at-Law Anil Nandlall, Sanjeev Datadin (centre) and Roysdale Forde.

A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) candidate, Ulita Moore, through her lawyer, Roysdale Forde, told People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, through his lawyer, Anil Nandlall, that the opposition should allow the court system to work instead of pushing for a recount of votes in last month’s general elections.

The Court of Appeal on Thursday decided to accept written submissions from lawyers for both parties in Moore’s appeal of a Full Court decision that the High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear her request for a judicial review of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) decision to conduct a national recount of the votes in the March 2 polls and scrap the results declared by the 10 District’s Returning Officers.

Court of Appeal judges, Brassington Reynolds, Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud intend to listen to oral arguments on Friday at 10am and swiftly deliver their decision due to the urgency of the matter.

Attorney-at-Law Forde could not categorically say whether he would move to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) if he loses in the local Court of Appeal as that would depend on what Moore wants.

With the PPP-nominated election commissioner, Robeson Benn already tabling a motion before the seven-member GECOM on Thursday morning for the commission to “proceed urgently with recount” that was “already decided,” a position that Attorney-at-Law Nandlall also reiterated, Forde called on the PPP to give the court system a chance to work.

“Our position is that there is nothing stopping the recount from taking place. No injunction exists, none has been applied for. No stay of execution of any sort has been applied for in relation to the Full Court decision and of course none has been granted so as I speak there is nothing preventing the Chairperson from summoning a meeting of GECOM to proceed with the recount pursuant to a decision made by GECOM since the 15th of March as GECOM had promised to do,” he said.

Nandlall contended that Moore’s appeal was “frivolous, is vexatious and is intended to stall the electoral process in this country and they have stalled it enough and it is time that we conclude the elections and the rightful results be declared.”

But Forde highlighted that GECOM Chairman, Claudette Singh had said that she would await the outcome of the court process. He flayed the PPP, including Nandlall, for aggressively calling for a recount after Justice Franklin Holder’s decision was thrown out on appeal by the Full Court. “The court system recognises further appeals. So why is it only when they obtain a victory for them at the Full Court that the process and the statement made by the Chairman of the Elections Commission that she would await the outcome of the court proceedings? How that suddenly come to an end? And that is the problem that we have been having throughout this process where from time to time people are making selective statements and selective positions,” Forde said.

Forde acknowledged that GECOM was free to go ahead even by considering a report by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield containing declarations from the 10 electoral districts. “What is the ambivalence and what is the fact that only a recount could now be considered? Why the report can’t be presented to the elections commission?

Forde, who is also an APNU+AFC candidate, said the GECOM has three options on the table: examine a recount, consider Lowenfield’s report or await the outcome of the court proceedings. “When we had legal proceedings pending in our favour, the Chairman of the Elections Commission and the Commission did not present their report to the Commission. The decision of the Full Court does not necessarily follow and (this) means, as a matter of logic and commonsense, that a recount should be presented when they are also legal proceedings pending. Let us be real!” Forde said.

The Full Court, presided over by Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire and Justice Nareshwar Harnanan, have already denied Moore’s leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it has little chance of success.