APNU/AFC caught in another attempt to delay elections recount – PPP Commissioners
Government-aligned commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission on Wednesday requested additional time to study a decision of the Full Court which was handed down on Monday. That decision discharged injunctions against the electoral body from going ahead with a recount.
The Government-aligned commissioners’ move serves as yet another delay in the announcement of the winner of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, more than a month after the electorate had cast their votes countrywide.
However, as they requested time to “study” the judgement, APNU/AFC candidate Ulita Moore, through her lawyers, moved to the Court of Appeal to have reinstated the injunction which was discharged by the Full Court. That matter comes up for hearing today.
Following the Full Court’s ruling, GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, attempted to set up a meeting of the commission to discuss the way forward.
According to a joint statement from Opposition-nominated GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shadick and Robeson Benn, they had expected that a meeting would have been called immediately.
According to those commissioners, the secretariat had even enquired whether they were available for a meeting at 10:00h on Wednesday. Subsequently, they said, they got an email at 08:43h on Wednesday, informing that the Government commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – had requested the meeting be held on Thursday morning instead, at a time to be determined.
It was communicated that the Government commissioners wanted time to “study” the rulings of the court.
The Opposition commissioners were not happy, and expressed this, adding that the Full Court judgement was broadcast live and was a simple one, requiring little explanation.
Commissioner Gunraj, in a missive to the media, called the position by Government “unacceptable”, and reminded that “the judgment of the Full Court was broadcast live on national media. The world had access to it. The judgment was pellucid and requires little explanation, if any.”
He said, “The nation and world anxiously await a resolution of this matter that is now one month old.”
According to Gunraj, with the ruling of the Full Court having discharged all injunctions restraining the GECOM from executing its full mandate, it was expected that Justice Singh would have summon “a meeting almost immediately to decide on the soonest possible time for commencement of the count, and if necessary, to fine tune some of the details.”
This as a result of the fact that impediments to the conduct of the recount of all ballots cast in the General and Regional Elections 2020, commencing with District Four, as unanimously decided by the Commission on March 15, 2020, has been removed.
Recalling “the numerous occasions on which such stalling measures were employed, with the inevitable result being to facilitate some dilatory tactic or the other,” the PPP Commissioner expressed hope that the local and foreign observers, as well as the international community, take note “of this further attempt to delay the conclusion of the electoral process.”
The Full Court on Tuesday upheld an appeal filed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, challenging an earlier decision by Justice Franklyn Holder to hear a case brought by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU) candidate Ulita Grace Moore.
That course of litigation had sought to prevent a countrywide recount of the votes cast in the General and Regional Elections of March 2, 2020 under an agreement brokered by a Caribbean Community Initiative that had been agreed to by the major stakeholders: caretaker President David Granger, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, and Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (retd) Claudette Singh.
The arguments were heard by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George and Justice Nareshwar Harnanan on Monday, and the ruling was read on Tuesday by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George. She also refused an application by Moore’s Attorney Mayo Robertson to stay the orders in order to facilitate an appeal.
The acting Chief Justice, in denying the application, said there was no chance of a successful appeal.
Meanwhile, attorney for the PPP/C, Anil Nandlall, on Wednesday, roasted the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) over what he calls further delays to proceed with the recounting of the votes.
Nandlall slammed the decision by Singh to postpone the meeting. He noted that citizens are losing patience as they are eager to see the electoral process come to an end with the swearing in of a president based on results that are credible. This, he said, could only be done once the votes are recounted in a transparent and well-supervised processed.
“What nonsense do we hear now about a study of the Full Court’s ruling? People’s patience running thin with these asinine disclosures,” Nandlall fumed.
“The ruling on Tuesday by the Full Court was streamed live on the Internet. The contents of the ruling were reported widely by every press outfit in the country. Both the lawyers for the Chairperson of GECOM and the Chief Elections Officer were present in Court when the ruling was rendered. One must be a retard to be unaware of its nature and effect”, Nandlall said.
When Ulita Moore’s injunctions were granted, GECOM never expressed any desire to “study” the proceedings, he added. “They acted upon it instantaneously by halting the recount forthwith, without it even being served upon them,” Nandlall said.