Opposition Leader files new application for recount
…as 4 political parties join injunction proceedings
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) as well as the representative of the party’s List of Candidates, along with private citizen, Reaz Holladar, has filed a court action for a recount of the results of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
This new proceeding raises a number of issues connected to the electoral process and the elections results, specifically the manner in which the Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo conducted the tabulation exercise, his illegal declaration of the results and his denial of recounts requested by eight of the parties that contested the elections.
Speaking on this, PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali explained that the application is seeking to have the court direct a recount, citing the commitment of the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh and President David Granger’s own commitment in the aide-memoire signed by him and Jagdeo under the auspices of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), which had brokered the recount.
However, that recounting process was blocked by an injunction obtained by APNU/AFC candidate, Ulita Moore, on Tuesday.
Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall told reporters on Friday that an application has been filed to have this new matter be joined with the injunction proceedings, since “the issues are related. They arise out of the same subject matter and they have great connection legally, pragmatically and politically…”
High Court Judge, Justice Franklyn Holder will be hearing that application to join the two cases on Monday at 13:00h.
Meanwhile, at the hearing of the injunction on Friday, Justice Holder granted applications from several opposition political parties, including the PPP/C’s Jagdeo, to join the proceeding that is blocking GECOM from conducting the national recount that was supposed to be done earlier this week and be supervised by a high-level Caricom team.
The other parties added to the proceedings were A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM), the three parties that had joined their Lists of Candidates to contest the elections.
They were presented by Attorney-at-Law Timothy Jonas and Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran in court.
Jonas, who is the Chairman of ANUG, told reporters that the Judge dealt with housekeeping matters on Friday ahead of the hearing of the substantive case on Monday.
In addition to Jagdeo, an application was also made for Reeaz Holladar to be added to the proceedings as well. Holladar had successfully filed proceedings earlier this month to block RO Mingo from declaring the results of Region Four as well as against GECOM and its officials from declaring the 2020 elections results.
However, the request to have Holladar join this case was denied by Justice Holder.
Nandlall explained that this was refused on the ground that Jagdeo’s joiner of the proceedings cover the same issues that Holladar’s application sought to ventilate in court.
“The Judge felt that having Holladar and Jagdeo together would have been duplicating the proceedings because they seem to be canvassing the same interests,” he noted.
Nevertheless, the four added parties were granted leave to file their defence in the injunction proceedings by Monday. The lawyers for Moore will then have up to Wednesday to file their response. Thereafter, the court will hear submissions on the injunction.
Roysdale Forde/APNU/AFC’s duplicity
On the other hand, Nandlall as well as Leader of LJP, Lenox Shuman, both raised concerns over the action of Attorney-at-Law Roysdale Forde, who is a candidate on the APNU/AFC List of Candidates.
It was pointed out that during the morning session of Friday’s proceedings, Forde had indicated to the court that he was just there in the interest of the APNU/AFC. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the court was limiting the number of persons representing parties and as such, the Judge had removed Forde from the courtroom since his party was not a part of or seeking to be a part of the proceedings.
But in a twist of events, Forde turned up during the afternoon session and claimed to now be a part of the team representing Moore, whose injunction is claiming that the APNU Leader, David Granger, is acting against the Constitution and the laws of Guyana by agreeing to a national recount.
Moreover, Shuman told reporters that only last week during the Holladar court proceedings, Forde had sat on the bench advising and consulting with Senior Counsel, Neil Boston, who was representing GECOM.
“If that is not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what constitutes a conflict of interest in Guyana…,” the LJP Leader contended.
Adding to this, Nandlall posited that this represents the duplicity of the APNU.
“So you understand the implosions and explosions that are taking place. So it would appear now that Moore and Granger are on the same side… The thing is all incestuous and all a political ploy to fool the Guyanese people and to fool the international community and to fool Caricom,” he asserted.
Nandlall went on to point out that apart from being a coalition candidate, Moore’s line-up of defence lawyers included Grenadian Queens Counsel, Dr Francis Alexis, and two Senior Counsels from Trinidad and Tobago as well as the local team.
In the meantime, the orders that were granted on Tuesday to block the recount process remain in place until the hearing and determination of the substantive injunction.