Justice Holder rules does not have jurisdiction to hear Jagdeo/Holladar application
─issue for elections petition
DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Justice Franklyn Holder this afternoon told attorneys that his court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the application brought by the leader of the opposition Bharrat Jagdeo and Reaz Holladar, which asked the court to set aside the March 13 declarations by Returning Officer of Region Four Clairmont Mingo.
Justice Holder said rather, the application will be best suited for an elections court through an elections petition.
Justice Holder’s decision came a few hours after Full Court Judge and Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George also ruled that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the injunction matter brought against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by private citizen Ulita Grace Moore, which sought to block GECOM from carrying out a national recount of the ballots of the March 2, elections.
Moore’s application was consolidated with that of Jagdeo and the now-deceased Holladar after they were filed before Justice Holder last week.
Mingo’s report to GECOM on March 13 showed that the coalition acquired 136, 057 votes for Region Four in the General Elections while the PPP 77, 231. In the Regional Elections, the report showed that the APNU+AFC received some 130, 289 votes and the PPP 74, 877. The figures altogether meant the Coalition was the overall winner of the elections.
The March 13 declaration was the second for Mingo. His first was nullified by Justice George after she ruled that the process was not in compliance with the Representation of People’s Act Chapter 84:1. The RO was ordered to return to the process and carry out the exercise in full compliance with the Act. The result of that exercise was again challenged by the opposition.
GECOM’s attorney Neil Boston, SC said Jagdeo brought the proceedings for the court to set aside the declaration made by the Region Four RO. Boston’s argument, however, remained that the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear that matter as it is an issue for an elections petition.
“That can only be resolved by an elections court when an elections petition is filed and they bring their witnesses. The court will call for the ballot boxes and they will go through it,” he told reporters following the ruling.
He said it is now left to GECOM to decide what it will do.
“Whether they will consider the report of the Region Four RO and make a final declaration, they will have to do so. This morning the full court said the issue raised by Private Citizen Ulita Moore is for an elections petition, so it is not entirely over,” he said.