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High Court rules that recounted votes stand; appeal to be filed

Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Monday ruled that the votes from the national recount must be used to declare the results of the March, 2020 general and regional elections, even as she dismissed the application by a supporter of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

Senior Counsel, Roysdale Forde immediately said he and his team would be filing an appeal to the Guyana Court of Appeal. 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 to file an appeal and signaled that the matter would be finally settled  right up to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall , for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), said there was no reason for any commitment to be given that no action would be taken by GECOM pending the filing of an appeal. “There are no proceedings pending until an appeal is filed. Any undertaking that would be given now would be hinged on nothing and would be vacuous,” Nandlall said.

The GECOM Chairman’s lawyer, Kim Kyte-Thomas said she would give a commitment only if the appeal would be filed on Tuesday because the elections were held since March and “we cannot continue like this.”

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

The Chief Justice said the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield is subject to the direction and control of the Chairman and the Guyana Elections Commission as he is a mere functionary. “The CEO cannot be a lone ranger,” she said.

The Chief Justice chided those who were seeking re-litigate public interest cases when the questions have been settled already by the courts. She said Order 60 that facilitated the Guyana Elections Commission’s recount of votes cast in the general and regional elections four months ago is valid.

She said arguments by the lawyers for APNU+AFC supporter, Misenga Jones and Attorney General, Basil Williams that Order 60 is unconstitutional are “hopelessly valid.” In relation to constitutionality of the use of Section 22 of the Election Laws Amendment Act to make Order 60, she said the Guyana Court of Appeal has already pronounced on the issue, she was bound to follow that decision and the applicant did not provide the High Court with any basis for that point to be reexamined. “I can discern no distinguishing feature that would permit me to depart from this judgment; nor has any evidence been disclosed on the affidavits by and/or on behalf of the applicant such as to permit me to do so,” Justice Wiltshire-George said.

Based on the recount, of the 460,352 valid votes cast, the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) would be declared  as the loser with 217,920 and the People’s Progressive Party  the winner with 233,336. The three ‘joinder’ parties- A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM) got a total of 5,214‬ votes.