Court to argue opposition’s “discovery” application on Tuesday

DPI, Guyana, Monday, March 23, 2020

The judicial hearing into the injunction against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will continue on Tuesday when lawyers will argue an application by opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo which seeks permission to have all Statements of Poll (SOPs) for region four be admitted.

Today’s in-chamber matter before Justice Franklyn Holder was fixed for the court to consider the applications by three small parties – A New and United Guyana (ANUG), the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), and The New Movement (TNM)  – and the opposition leader to be consolidated with that of private citizen Ulita Grace Moore. Those applications saw no objection.

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Senior Counsel Neil Boston addressing members of the media outside the Supreme Court.

However, according to GECOM’s attorney Senior Counsel Neil Boston, the opposition leader is now seeking to have all Statements of Poll for district four be presented; a request, the attorney said cannot stand up in court.

“We object to that; we said the court does not have jurisdiction to deal with that issue, that it is for an elections petition and we are going to argue on that. He wants all the SOPs that were cast for region four to be presented. That is part of his discovery. We will make short shrift of that tomorrow,” he told reporters outside the courthouse.

According to the attorney, GECOM will not do such, since “only the elections judge can ask for that.”

“There is no such thing as discovery. You cannot want to bring through the back door, something that is expressly shut out from coming through the front door in a process like this. That has to be done through an elections petition.”

The application filed by Ulita Grace Moore last week requested that the court prevent the elections commission from carrying out a national recount of votes cast in the March 2, General and Regional Elections.

That recount was on account of a request made by His Excellency President David Granger to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and agreed to by the opposition leader. Moore’s application cited the unconstitutionality of such action.

According to SC Boston, Jagdeo’s application is similar to that of Reaz Holladar. The opposition leader is asking for the second declaration made by Region Four Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo, to be null and void and for GECOM to not make a final declaration based on that.

Towards the continuation of the matters, counsels have been given until 10 am on Wednesday to file affidavits in defence of the application by the opposition leader. The opposition leader must reply by 12:00 noon on that same day. Written submissions in both the GECOM injunction and the “discovery” application have to be filed by 4pm on Thursday, March 26. By Thursday, parties will also be informed about the timing of the judge’s delivery.

“So, we are moving at a certain pace. Probably by Saturday, everything is over. So, we are moving with a certain degree of alacrity,” SC Boston exclaimed.

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