Appeal Court rules “more votes cast” means “more valid votes cast”

finds it has jurisdiction to hear Eslyn David vs GECOM case

DPI, Guyana, Monday, June 22, 2020

The Guyana Court of Appeal on Monday in a 2-1 vote ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the Eslyn David verses the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) case.

The court also ruled that “more votes are cast” means “more valid votes are cast” in keeping with the Recount Order.

Justice Rishi Persaud ruled that the court has no jurisdiction over the matter, while Justices Brassington Reynolds and Dawn Gregory ruled that it does have jurisdiction over the matter.

Justice Persaud in his ruling said that the motion is misconceived and must be struck out for want of jurisdiction. He posited that the issue of ‘credible’ elections can only be ascertained via an election petition.

However, Justice Reynolds disagreed, noting that Article 177 (4) of the Guyana Constitution confers jurisdiction over the Court of Appeal in respect to the validity of an election of a president or upon the interpretation of the constitution.

“There is no provision in my respectful view in law in respect of which this issue can be raised in any other court than the Court of Appeal,” Justice Reynolds stated.

He noted that GECOM has the responsibility to determine the final credible count of the results of the March 02 General and Regional Elections.

“It would be reasonable to presume that, that final credible count would require both a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the report and the summary of observation of order 60 of 2020,” he said.

Justice Reynolds concluded that “by way of order I say that the words ‘more votes cast’ in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Guyana Constitution be interpreted to mean ‘more valid votes cast’ in keeping with Order (60) order 2020.”

Justice Dawn Gregory agreed with Justice Reynolds on the issues of whether the court has jurisdiction and that of ‘valid votes cast.’

She, however, noted that the court has no jurisdiction to ascertain whether the CEO report was valid or not since he was unrepresented in court.

The case was brought by a private citizen Eslyn David against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield; the Chairman, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh; and the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., over a decision by the Commission to declare the results of the March 02 General and Regional Elections based on a report that is to be submitted by the CEO including votes which are not valid and credible.

On Friday last, the Judges took the bench at the Court of Appeal to facilitate case management and several parties were added including representatives of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), A New and United Guyana (ANUG), The New Movement (TNM), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Change Guyana and the Citizenship Initiative (CI).

PPP/C’s Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali and its General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, were added as respondents in the case on behalf of the PPP/C. They were represented by Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, in association with Attorneys-at-Law Devindra Kissoon, Anil Nandlall and Sanjeev Datadin.

The applicant David was represented by Trinidad and Tobago Attorneys Senior Counsel (SC) John Jeremy and Keith Scotland along with Guyanese Attorneys Mayo Robertson and Roysdale Forde.

GECOM’s Chair was represented by Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte-Thomas – a former Solicitor General, while the Attorney General represented himself in association with Attorney-at-Law Maxwell Edwards.

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