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High Court rejects AG, Jagdeo efforts to join APNU’s Local Govt boundaries case

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 May 2023, 17:18 by Denis Chabrol

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Tuesday dismissed applications by Attorney General Anil Nandlall and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo to intervene in a case by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that seeks to cancel or postpone the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE) because the configuration of a number of boundaries is disadvantageous to that opposition party.

Attorney-at-Law, Lyndon Amsterdam, for APNU Chief Scrutineer Carol Smith-Joseph, told Demerara Waves Online News that the judge “dismissed their applications” and she listened to arguments from me and Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) Legal Advisor, Attorney-at-Law Kurt Da Silva.

The court is expected to hand down its decision on Wednesday afternoon on whether 37 boundaries in 19 local authority areas were constitutionally and legally demarcated or Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall’s adjustments had been merely adopted by GECOM to APNU’s disadvantage.

Attorney General Nandlall could not be reached for comment and a spokesman for his chambers could not say what transpired in court in what Mr Nandlall had said was an in-chamber hearing.

Mr Amsterdam related that Mr Nandlall and Mr Jagdeo’s presence was “not needed to resolve the matter” and the GECOM could adequately represent itself because it is that election management authority’s decision that was being challenged. “She felt that GECOM is an independent constitutional body and it had no link to the State in terms of the Attorney General,” he said.

The lawyer indicated that the High Court frowned on the reasons such as the spending of a lot of money on preparation for the elections and the advanced state of preparations for the polls were not part of her consideration if an illegal or unlawful act was done and the implications that might have for postponement of the polls. The Attorney General, in his court papers, had stated that already government had spent GY$2.9 billion to prepare for the polls.

Similarly, according to Mr Amsterdam, the Chief Justice did not find any merit in the PPP General Secretary’s grounds that his party spent a lot of money to prepare for the elections and the number of seats that were being contested.

The Chief Justice, he said, remarked that neither the Attorney General nor the PPP General Secretary stated when they had become aware of the APNU Chief Scrutineer’s application. “She felt that their presence could not advance the matter and further it will likely delay the matter,” he said. The judge reportedly recognised that voting starts on June 2 (for the Disciplined Services) and the matter needs to be dealt with swiftly.

Asked for a reaction to the Chief Justice’s decision, he said “I am comfortable and happy that the matter was proceeded with without any delay.”

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May 2023