GECOM Chair opts out of CCJ hearing

DPI, Guyana, Monday, June 29, 2020

Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh has opted to not participate in the upcoming Ali/Jagdeo vs Eslyn David appeal case before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The Chair is the third listed respondent in the matter.

Through her Attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas, Justice Singh wrote to the CCJ, at the weekend, informing the Registrar that she would no longer be participating in the hearing.

“Please bring to the attention of the Honourable Judges that on further consideration, we do not wish to actively participate in the Appeal. In the circumstances, we do not wish to make any submissions,” the letter, signed by Kyte-John stated.

The CCJ is yet to determine whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case filed by the opposition PPP, challenging the decision of the Guyana Court of Appeal on Monday, June 22, which ordered that the Guyana Elections Commission use “more valid votes cast” when determining the credibility of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

During its case management conference on Thursday last, the Trinidad-based appellate court had noted that it had not yet assumed jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Guyana’s Attorney General Basil Williams and the attorneys for Eslyn David remain adamant that the CCJ is without jurisdiction to hear the case as both Article 177 (4) of the Constitution and the Part II of the Caribbean Court of Justice Act Cap 3:07 have made this clear.

Article 177 (4) states clearly that any decisions made by the Appeal Court is final and cannot be challenged further.

The PPP wants the CCJ to overturn all the decisions made by Justices Brassington Reynolds and Dawn Gregory who both interpreted the term “more votes cast” in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution to mean “more valid votes cast” in keeping with Order No 60 of 2020 or the gazetted national recount order of GECOM.

In its submission, the PPP wants to be declared the winner of the 2020 elections with the use of votes found to be fraudulent.

The CCJ will begin hearing arguments on Wednesday, July 1, and will thereafter decide if it does have jurisdiction to proceed.

Parties have been given until Tuesday, June 30, to submit their written submissions on the special leave application.

The matter before the CCJ will be presided over by Justice A. Saunders, PCCJ, Justice J. Wit, JCCJ, Justice W. Anderson, JCCJ, Justice M. Rajnauth-Lee, JCCJ, Justice D. Barrow, JCCJ, Justice A. Burgess, JCCJ and Justice P. Jamadar, JCCJ.