GECOM chairman must declare David Granger President- AG

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, July 18, 2020       

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC on Friday, told the High Court that the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must declare Leader of ANPU, President of Guyana, having been elected from the March 02, General and Regional Elections.

The case was taken to the High Court by Misenga Jones to compel GECOM to declare the results of the elections based on the Declarations made by the 10 Returning Officers.

In his submission during the oral presentations, AG Williams explained that a report was submitted to the Chairman (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on July 11, according to Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA).

However, it was not acted on which is a serious breach of the Constitution AG Williams said.

“In that report, the CEO has indicated that the list that had more votes cast for it and the designated presidential candidate deemed to be elected, is none other than David Arthur Granger. It follows that the candidate having deemed to be elected, then it was the duty of the Chairman to declare him as having been elected under Article 177: 2 (b). That has not happened and so we have a constitutional crisis in that regard.”

Relative to that issue, the AG noted are the directives given to the CEO by the Chairman also comes into conflict with the provisions of the constitution because they relied on Section 18 of the Election Law (Amendment) Act.

“Essentially, Section 18 cannot override the provision of Article 177:2 (B) because it’s an act of Parliament and its intention are in conflict with Article 177: 2 (B) therefore to that extent… it is void and it has to go,” the AG clarified.

Additionally, he noted that Section 22 which was relied upon by the Chairman brings into effect Order 60, which also presents a similar problem.

AG Williams argued that Order 60 cannot be brought into to accordance with Article 177 (2) (b) since 177(2) (b) clearly states that the CEO will advise the GECOM Chairman based on the data provide by the Returning Officers (ROs) of the administrative regions.

Therefore, he noted that “Order 60 purports to strip the CEO of his constitutionally indispensable advisory role. The overriding and overarching principle in all of this is the supremacy of the Constitution which is entrenched at the deepest level possible. These arguments, that the purported reliance by GECOM on Sections 22 and 18 to avoid the prescriptions of Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act, and Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution itself is incompetent and impermissible, finds justification when the legislative history and background of Article 177 (2) (b) are considered.”

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George then asked if the advice of the CEO is deemed flawed, should the commission still accept it.

The AG explained that in such a case it should be addressed via an election petition, which can only be filed 28 days after a declaration is made.

He reminded that “Paragraph 52 of the CCJ judgement in Ali, Jagdeo and David it is a clear definitive statement of law by our apex court. It is actually tantamount to a declaration of the law on a point and it says clearly that no order of GECOM can interpret the constitution or to decide that it can create new electoral machinery or regime that is at variance with the existing one.”

The CCJ also noted that the process must return to the established electoral machinery that has always guided Guyana’s electoral process. As such AG Williams posited that the CCJ “erased Order No. 60 from the laws of Guyana.”

“The Chairman of GECOM must declare David Arthur Granger as having being elected from the March 2nd General and Regional Elections as President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana<’ the AG submitted to the court.

The case was brought by Private Citizen, Misenga who is being represented by Attorneys at Law, Mayo Robertson, John Jeremy and Roysdale Forde. The CEO is being represented by Senior Counsel Neil Boston.

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