Private citizen moves to High Court to stop recount declaration

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, July 14, 2020

On Tuesday, moments before the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield was expected to present a report requested by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, private citizen Misenga Jones approached the High Court in a bid to stop that declaration.

Jones, through her attorney Mayo Roberston filed a Fixed Date Application (FDA) against GECOM, its Chairperson Justice Singh, CEO Keith Lowenfield and the Attorney General Basil Williams, SC.

Jones’ Application states that there has been non-compliance by the Guyana Elections Commission and the Chairman in that they have not complied with the constitutionally stated process as outlined in Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution regarding the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.

The Affidavit says the Chair has failed to act following the advice of the CEO as mandated by Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution, failing to declare the presidential candidate deemed to be elected as president in accordance with the advice tended in the report by the CEO dated the 11 July 2020.

The applicant is also asking the court to make a declaration that GECOM has no authority to declare any person president except in accordance with the advice of the Chief Election Officer as tendered in his report according to Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution of Guyana.

 A Declaration is also being sought that the report required by the Chief Election Officer under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act must be based on the votes counted and information provided by the ten (10) Returning Officers from their respective ten (10) Electoral Districts which were submitted to the Chief Election Officer on the 13 March 2020.

The applicant also wants a declaration that data generated from the recount purportedly conducted under Order No. 60 of 2020 is generated by an unconstitutional process in that the Order requires decisions on the validity of ballots that by Article 163(1)(b) are the exclusive province of the High Court.

Also, Jones is seeking a declaration that the Chief Election Officer is not subject to the direction of either the Chairman or GECOM in the content of the advice he is required to provide under Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution of Guyana.

Jones said the Commission does not have the constitutional authority to alter the advice contained in the report submitted by the Chief Election Officer in accordance with Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution of Guyana and Section 96(1) of the Representation of the People Act.

On Monday, Justice Singh instructed the CEO to submit another report with numbers generated on the Certificates of Recount from the national vote recount.

The CEO had submitted his final recount on Saturday last, in accordance with the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which ruled on July 8 that the National Recount Order was unconstitutional.

That report was rejected by the Chair and opposition commissioners.

The CEO has maintained that he has been acting within the confines of the law.

Lowenfield had referenced the CCJ’s ruling and the Constitution in his prior response to the Chair, where he had also sought further guidance in the preparation of his report.

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