APNU+AFC must blame itself for failed election petition – Attorney General

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, says the APNU+AFC Coalition can only blame itself for its failed election petition.

On Monday, Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George nullified the Coalition’s Petition 99, which challenged the results of the March 2, 2020 elections. Petition 88, which challenges Order 60, or the National Recount Order, will go forward.

Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC

Justice George found that the petitioners were non-compliant in the service of the petition on the second named respondent, former President Mr. David Granger.

The AG said following the ruling, there had been an unrelenting and “sustained attempt” by the APNU+AFC to distort and spread misinformation about the decision.

APNU+AFC has no one to blame but themselves, their lawyers. There is no one other than the lawyers who were involved in the matter, must accept responsibility for the plight of that petition. It tells a story of incompetence, lack of discipline, lack of focus and tells a story that evil shall never prevail over good and that was borne out by the ruling of the honourable Chief Justice,” he said, on his weekly Issues in the News Facebook programme.

The Attorney General said the filing of an election petition is a democratic right. He said he wanted the case to proceed on “merit” to prove the Opposition wrong on their claims. However, the Coalition failed on a basic procedural requirement critical to the matter moving forward.

“I remember sitting here and saying that election laws are not ordinary laws of the land. That when you are filing an elections petition, you are invoking a special jurisdiction of the court that is 500 years old. A jurisdiction of the court that is exercised with unique and different rules and principles.”

The AG’s team had always maintained that any procedural misstep or error, failure to comply with timelines and serve required documents within the timeframe would be fatal to the petition.

“We made that very clear that if those mistakes are made, or any one of them is made, the petition is liable to be dismissed.”

He said what may be regarded as trivial or an “insubstantial” mistake in other cases, those things in election laws are fatal.

The petition documents showed that Mr. Granger, who is also head of the APNU+AFC List, was served on September 25, 2020, outside of the stipulated timeframe.

A Supplementary Affidavit filed by the petitioners without the Court’s permission, was rejected by the Chief Justice. The Affidavit showed that Mr. Granger was served on September 18, but reportedly signed a later date by mistake.

The petitioners in the matter had argued that Mr. Granger was not a proper and necessary party to the petition and therefore, his late service was of little to no consequence to the matter.

This was rejected by the Court.