The action or lack of action by our justice system is one of two main reasons we are facing election-rigging in 2020.
The other reason is collusion between APNU/AFC and GECOM, with strategic assistance from the Police.
The following are examples of shortcomings of our legal system in recent times:
The PPP/C 2015 election petition has been gathering dust in the Courts since 2015.
After the NCM, Nigel Hughes invented a new majority for 65, which would have been considered nonsense and dismissed in any normal Court of Law. Instead, the Court allowed it, and this triggered a new low in ethics. Attorney General Basil Williams embraced Hughes’ math, and in the process, it was revealed that two Appeal Court Judges, Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory Barnes, are also mathematically challenged, to say the least.
By taking this to the CCJ, Basil Williams made all Guyanese appear stupid. After months of waiting, the CCJ came up with the correct majority for 65, but failed to name a date for the elections, and thereby failed to safeguard the democratic process. In fact, they left it up to the APNU/AFC to do the right thing. This was to become the new theme for things to come.
Justice James Patterson, who accepted the unilateral appointment by Granger to the GECOM Chairmanship, in violation of the Carter formula, ought to have known better. In the ensuing legal challenge, Chief Justice Roxane George, to everyone’s surprise, upheld the unilateral appointment. It was then again up to the CCJ, and once again the Court pronounced correctly, but did not lay sufficient ground rules to force adherence to the Constitution.
Granger then decided that he could both nominate and choose from his own nominees.
Jumping ahead to March 5, after the Mingo theatrics, the Chief Justice surprisingly did not reprimand him; and, in fact, bestowed upon him the powers of discretion. Feeling invincible, Mingo went back and broke the law even more blatantly. By then the diplomatic community must have been thinking that Guyana is indeed a messed-up country.
Then we come to Justice (retd) Claudette Singh, Chairperson of GECOM, who has done nothing to support Guyana’s fragile democracy. She is ultimately responsible for everything that transpires within GECOM. The only question which remains is whether she is under some threat, or is part of the rigging mechanism by her own free will. It is looking more like the latter with each passing day.
Finally, we arrive at Justice Franklyn Holder. He should have recused himself from this case due to conflict of interest owing to family connections. Similarly, the Chief Justice should have taken over the matter, since she has already ruled on related aspects of the case and due to Holder’s conflict of interest mentioned above. The collective is now forced to wait and see what perversity is coming next.
The Guyana Bar Association, which fielded a local observer team, was however one bright spot in the sea of darkness.