The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) moved to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) seeking redress in relation to the Court of Appeal’s decision on Monday in the Eslyn David matter.
APNU/AFC supporter, David sought several reliefs under Article 177 (4) of the Constitution and among them it included the question as to whether “more votes are cast” in Article 177 (2) (b) can be determined as “more valid votes”.
In a 2-1 judgement, Appeal Court Judge, Justice Dawn Gregory and High Court Judge, Justice Brassington Reynolds found that more votes are cast meant more valid votes cast. By ruling in that fashion, the duo effectively disagreed with Appeal Court Judge, Justice Rishi Persaud who found that the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
The Court also ruled that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has the responsibility to determine the validity of the votes.
This interpretation of the Constitution caused the PPP/C, an added respondent to the David matter, to move to the CCJ hours after the Appeal Court handed down its decision.
The appeal was filed in the names of the Party’s General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo and Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali and named David, the Chief Elections Officer, GECOM Chair, GECOM, the Attorney General, Mark France – A New and United Guyana, Daniel Josh Kanhai – The New Movement, Lennox Shuman – Liberty and Justice Party, Shazaam Ally – The Citizen’s Initiative, and Abedin Kindy Ali – Change Guyana as respondents.
The PPP/C is seeking, among other things, an interim order restraining Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield from “issuing his Report pursuant to Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act or any report in reliance on the Decision, inclusive of the modified interpretation of Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Guyana given by the Court of Appeal, pending the determination of this application…”
They are also seeking an order restraining GECOM from “taking any further steps to determine whether the recounted votes as tabulated by the Chief Election Officer constitutes “a final credible count” or otherwise enquiring into the validity or credibility of the tabulated votes pending the determination of this application…”
Meanwhile, in the appeal, Jagdeo and Ali are contending that the Court of Appeal “erred in law and was plainly wrong” by, among others things, “holding that it had jurisdiction to hear and determine the Notice of Motion filed by Eslyn Davis in Civil Appeal No. 41 of 2020 under Article 177(4) of the Constitution…”
They are further contending that the Court of Appeal erred by finding that GECOM “has the jurisdiction to assess, qualitatively and quantitatively, whether the tabulation of the votes as recounted and tabulated by the Chief Elections Officer constitutes “a final credible count” or otherwise enquire into the credibility of the tabulated votes arising out of the recount.”
Additionally, it was argued that the Appeal Court erred by interpreting Article 177(2)(b) by modifying the provision to include the word “valid” in circumstances where the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction so to do.
It was highlighted in the court document that “the request for the urgent intervention of the Caribbean Court of Justice is justified and necessary in order to prevent a clear and substantial miscarriage of justice and irreparable harm that will otherwise be done to the people of Guyana and the very institution of democracy in Guyana unless special leave to appeal is granted.”
In a statement, this morning, the PPP/C said Court of Appeal in its pronouncement have plunged the law in total confusion and it is now no longer clear how an election of members of the National Assembly is to be challenged and how the election of the President can be challenged.
The Party reiterated that the Court of Appeal has wrongly ruled that the election of a President and the members of the National Assembly should be done separately by two different Courts. It explained that the chosen approach to the CCJ is to bring clarity to the law and to guard against the Court of Appeal wrongly giving itself jurisdiction, again, to either direct the CEO to submit a fraudulent and perverted report, or to protect a fraudulent and perverted report submitted by the CEO to the Commission.
Additionally, the PPP/C said it anticipate that the appeal will be heard and determined speedily by the CCJ to enable the true results of the election be declared and Ali be sworn in as the next duly elected President of Guyana.
Meanwhile, GECOM was expected to meet at 11:00h today but that meeting was postponed due to the appeal .