High Court rules has jurisdiction to hear GECOM’s injunction matter
─rules against opposition’s “discovery” application
DPI, Guyana, Friday, March 27, 2020
High Court Judge Franklyn Holder this afternoon ruled that his court has the jurisdiction to hear the injunction application brought against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by private citizen Ulita Grace Moore, which prevents the elections body from carrying out a national recount of votes cast in the March, 2 General and Regional Elections.
The jurisdiction application was one of two submissions filed by the leader of the opposition Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday. The other was a request for GECOM to present copies of all the Statements of Poll (SOPs) for the Region Four district, for those very elections.
Today, Justice Holder also ruled against that application, stating that such a request can only be granted following an elections petition.
Outside the courthouse, today, GECOM’s attorney Senior Counsel Neil Boston said all of the applications by the opposition leader are tied to an elections petition.
“Jagdeo is challenging the validity of the results of Mr. Mingo on the night of March 13. and the basis of his challenges is that it was fraudulent. The figure that Mingo arrived at in relation to APNU and PPPC is different from that of his statements of polls that he purportedly got from all the polling places in region four,” the Senior Counsel told journalists.
He said if Jagdeo’s issue is a question of fraud, then his contention falls squarely under Article 163 of the Constitution, which states that anything that has to with whether an election has been unlawfully conducted or the result of the elections has been affected by some unlawful act of omission, then it has to go to a special court through an elections petition.
“Mr. Jagdeo was trying to bring by the way of the back door, something that could not have entered by way of the front door. So that is why his application for disclosure of SOP’s was not allowed.”
He relayed that Section 19 of the National Assembly’s Validity of Elections Laws dictates that anyone who appears before an elections court with a petition, can apply to the judge for the ballot boxes to be presented to the court. The ballots in the boxes can then be checked.
“So, the concerns of Jagdeo can be addressed under the constitution,” the attorney assured.
Regarding Moore’s application, SC Boston said her submission is an intermediate action which seeks judicial review of an unlawful act by GECOM.
He pointed to Article 161 (B) of the Constitution which states that no politician shall interfere with the supervision or running of elections in Guyana. Therefore the agreement between President David Granger and opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo is ultra vires (beyond the powers) of Article 161 (B).
“So they cannot breach a constitutional provision and GECOM does not have the lawful authority to accommodate an unlawful act. There is no legitimate explanation in Holladar and Jagdeo that GECOM will act unlawfully.”
President Granger had on March 15, requested from CARICOM’s Chair Mia Motley, supervision for a total recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 polls. The Head of State was seeking to bring an end to doubts in the minds of local and international observers and Guyanese on a whole, that the results were fraudulent.
That request was however short-lived, however, after Moore filed an injunction blocking GECOM from carrying out the recount.
The court will hear the substantive application in that matter on Monday.