APNU/AFC to appeal dismissal of 2nd election petition
– Opposition Leader still believes petition has merit
A week after the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) had one of its election petitions thrown out, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has indicated his party’s intention to appeal the decision.
Harmon made this pronouncement during a virtual press conference on Monday. He noted that the party believes that it has solid grounds for the petition and will as such, appeal its dismissal by acting Chief Justice Roxane George.
“I wish to address the issue of our elections petitions. And I wish to assure all our supporters and Guyanese who have a deep interest in the outcome of this matter, we will pursue our election petitions, both of them. Petition number 88, we will pursue that with unrelenting vigour.”
“And we shall appeal the decision of the Chief Justice with regards to petition 99, which she ruled was not permissible. We do not agree with her ruling and as the law provides, we will appeal that decision,” the Opposition Leader said.
According to Harmon, the petitions address key questions that pertain to the March 2 General and Regional Elections. However, when it comes to the lone surviving petition, Harmon said that they will be making submissions to the court.
“While they address separate issues, they will establish that fraud was prevalent in the March 2020 elections… with respect to petition 88, we expect a hearing of that petition in the courts in early April. In the interim, the parties will be providing submissions to the court every two weeks, leading up to that date. So, we already have a timeline.”
Petition 99 of 2020, filed on September 15, 2020, by APNU/AFC agents Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse, had asked the court to order the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh, to declare David Granger as President. However, Chief Justice George dismissed the petition on the grounds that it was not properly served to former President Granger.
Granger, who is also the leader of APNU/AFC’s List of Candidates and named as the second respondent, was served on September 25, 10 days after petition 99 of 2020 was filed on September 15 and five days outside of the legal timeframe outlined in the National Assembly Validity of Elections Act.
“As [a] consequence, the late service of Petition 99 of 2020 on the second respondent amount to non-service on him. This would lead to nullification of petition 99p2020 ab initio, more so as the court has to consider this status quo at the time of service and not the proceedings or position of a party or parties adopted thereafter. This is to say from the time petition 99p2020 was served out of time on the second respondent as a necessary party, it was a non-starter,” the Chief Justice had posited when she delivered her ruling.
Thomas and Nurse named Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, David Granger – APNU/AFC, Horatio Edmonson – Federal United Party, Bharrat Jagdeo – People’s Progressive Party/Civic, John Flores – Liberty and Justice Party, Asha Kissoon – The New Movement, Vishnu Bandhu – United Republican Party, Adebin Kindi Ali – Change Guyana, Patrick Bourne – People’s Republic Party, Jonathan Yearwood – A New and United Guyana, Shazam Ally – The Citizenship Initiative, and Gerald Perreira of Organisation for the Victory of the People as respondents. The Attorney General Chambers also joined the proceedings.
During the last hearing on November 30, 2020, prior to the ruling, Trinidadian Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes (representing the interest of Vice President Jagdeo and the PPP/C) and Attorney General Anil Nandlall, argued that the late service of the petition to Granger served as grounds for dismissal.
However, lawyers for the petitioners had asked the court to overlook the deficiencies in the service of the petition on Granger, who is the second respondent and Head of the APNU/AFC’s List of Candidates, hence, spare their petition from being tossed out. They insisted that he was served on September 18 – in keeping with the statutory requirements.