CCJ rejects PPP’s request to withdraw GECOM CEO’s report
—not the appropriate forum – Justice Anderson
—cannot undo what was done by CEO – Justice Saunders
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, June 25, 2020
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has rejected a request by PPP’s Attorney Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes to have Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Keith Lowenfield withdraw the final report he submitted to the elections body.
Guided by the ruling of the Appellate Court on Monday, which had ordered that the commission’s decision on the elections be determined only by “more valid votes cast,” the CEO presented his report to Commission Chair Justice (Ret’d), Claudette Singh, showing the APNU+AFC Coalition winning the March 2, 2020 elections with a total 171,825 valid votes.
The report shows the PPP following with 166,343 votes, while the joined list of A New United Guyana, the Liberty and Justice Party and The New Movement together gained some 3, 348 valid votes.
CCJ’s President Justice Adrian Saunders was at the time reaffirming the Court’s Order asking that nothing be done by GECOM that could prejudice a fair hearing of the Ali and Jagdeo case. It was then that Attorney Kashir Khan representing the eighth, ninth and tenth respondents in the matter, informed the court that the CEO had submitted his report although a Stay was granted by the Court of Appeal.
Senior Counsel Mendes later interjected and requested that the CEO be given an order to withdraw his report.
Attorney General Basil Williams also interjected explaining that the Stay of Order granted by the Court of Appeal did not prevent the CEO from carrying out his constitutional mandate.
He noted too that the CEO had already submitted his report to the commission, before the Order from the CCJ.
This sentiment was also expressed by the Hon. Justice Winston Anderson who told attorneys that “Whatever the CEO did took place before the Order of the CCJ.”
“I do not know how far we can possibly go interrogating the order made by the Court of Appeal. I assume no approach has been made to the Court of Appeal by the applicants regarding what the CEO did. Whatever the CEO did took place before the order of the CCJ. In that event we should not detain ourselves too long on this point,” he noted.
President of the CCJ, the Hon. Justice Adrian Saunders indicated that the Order of the CCJ has been respected and continues to be respected.
“The CCJ is not aware of what occurred in the Court of Appeal and if parties wish to indicate a contravention of the order by the Court of Appeal, this is not the appropriate forum for that,” he cautioned the attorneys.
Justice Saunders had cause to remind the lawyers that the arguments on the CEO’s report were bordering on substantive issues that were not scheduled to be heard at the case management conference.
“We cannot undo what was done by the CEO. If counsel wishes to include in their submission what was done was lawfully done, then you can do so,” he affirmed.