Appeal Court to rule on GECOM injunction matter on Sunday
DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 3, 2020
The Court of Appeal will on Sunday, April 5, hand down its ruling in the Application of Leave to file an appeal hearing brought by private citizen Ulita Grace Moore.
Moore through her lawyers Trinidad and Tobago Attorney Keith Scotland and Grenadian Dr Francis Alexis, QC along with Roysdale Forde, is asking the court to set aside the ruling of Chief Justice, and allow her injunction application, blocking the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from carrying out a national recount of votes to be heard in the high court.
Through their submissions, the lawyers established that unlike the CJ’s ruling, Moore’s application is not for an elections petition and that the High Court is duly suitable to hear her case.
Moore maintains that the decision taken by the GECOM to carry out a national recount of the votes of the March 2, General and Regional Election, goes against the constitution and the country’s electoral laws.
The agreement for the recount was made between His Excellency President David Granger and opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo, following a request by the President to CARICOM for its supervision.
Attorney Scotland told the court that his client has the right to an appeal. He said the Full Court erred in its exercise of discretion to hear an interlocutory appeal during the hearing by Justice Franklyn Holder. He pointed to the Full Court’s reasoning in its judgement when it disallowed leave for the appeal.
“It seems that the court’s reason that the singular determination of Jurisdiction will decide if the case goes on. The court said this is an exceptional circumstance. We respectfully say that the Full Court plainly erred in law by coming to that conclusion because there was no evidence before it of exceptional circumstance,”.
Scotland said the effect of a judgement on jurisdiction upheld by a superior court, brings a matter to an end.
“In the circumstances, we say, whether or not the court wants to say it was plainly wrong, the Full Court just got it wrong. There were exceptional circumstances warranting the exercise of discretion in this matter.”
Queens Counsel Dr. Francis Alexis sought to show that there are reasonable prospects of success, regarding the role of the full court; that the constitutional issues highlighted by Moore should be raised at an elections court and that Section 22 can do what the Full Court sought to do with it.
He said the core issue taken by Moore is whether the Chairman and GECOM be prevented from performing the duty repose in them and the Chairman to declare a person be the president of Guyana under Article 177 of the Constitution and, on GECOM to declare a winning list of candidates under Section 99 of the Representation of the People’s Act.
He said; therefore, Moore’s issue is not an elections dispute that would require an elections petition. “Your honours, not every question regarding an election is an election dispute to which applies an election petition,” Dr. Alexis told the Court.
He said Ulita Moore’s complaint is about GECOM’s non-compliance with the Supreme Law of the Republic in Article 177 Paragraph 2.
“Furthermore, Ulita Moore is complaining that such non-performance is aimed deliberately to achieve cooperation to an agreement, which, she contends violates several provisions of the constitution.”
He said his client is not questioning the results of the elections but is rather seeking an interpretation of the Constitution which remains fundamental to this state.
Representing opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo, Attorney Douglas Mendes maintained that Moore’s application was only suited for an elections petition.
Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory-Barnes, Brassington Reynolds and Rishi Persaud will hand their ruling on Sunday, April 5, 2020.