Following a case management conference this morning, Chief Justice Roxane George has fixed Friday, July 17, 2020 to hear submissions in a case mounted by government supporter, Misenga Jones, who is seeking to block the declaration of the final results of the March 02, 2020 elections, using the votes tabulated and certified during the Recount exercise.
During the virtual proceedings, Justice George refused an application by Attorney General Basil Williams for an order be granted against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) restraining the electoral from taking any further steps as to facilitate the declaration of a final result.
Former Solicitor General Kim Kyte-Thomas, on behalf of Chairperson of GECOM, retired Judge Claudette Singh, however gave an undertaking that the Commission will take no further steps until the matter is heard and determined.
That further, Justice George entertained and granted applications from several political parties that contested the elections to join as added Respondents. They include: People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), A New and United Guyana (ANUG), The Citizenship Initiative (TCI), Change Guyana (CG) Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), and United Republican Party (URP).
Jones, through her lawyers, Trinidad and Tobago Senior Counsel John Jeremie and Mayo Robertson, have listed the Chairperson of GECOM, retired Judge Claudette Singh; Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and Attorney General Senior Counsel Basil Williams, as Respondents in her application.
According to Justice George, some of the issues to be determined are whether the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the case, and if the issues raised in Jones’s application are res judicata (already decided) given the rulings of the Court of Appeal and Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The Chief Justice disclosed that Jones’s is “well prepared” given what was outlined in her case to the court.
The applicant, Jones, was granted until 11pm tonight to file written submissions. The Respondents, including the six political parties that were added, have until tomorrow night, July 16, 2020 to respond. The applicant was given until Friday July 17, 2020 at 10am to file a reply if necessary. Submissions are not to be more than 10 pages long.
The Chief Justice will begin hearing arguments in the case on Friday, July 17, 2020 from 14:00hrs; these proceedings will be live streamed. Justice George said that she anticipates handing down a ruling by Sunday, July 19, 2020. Of course, she reasoned this will heavily depend on the volume of submissions before the court.
The legal team for the PPP/C is being led by Trindad and Tobago Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes; lawyer Kamal Ramkarran is appearing for ANUG, while lawyer Sanjeev Datadin is representing URP. The Attorney General appeared in person, in association with lawyer Maxwell Edwards; Senior Counsel Neil Boston is appearing for the Chief Elections Officer.
Jones is asking the High Court to declare that Justice Singh and the Elections Commission have not complied with the process outlined in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution. Furthermore, Jones contends that Justice Singh has also failed to declare the election results from advice by Lowenfield.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), has ruled that the only results valid are those from the recount, and that no person or authority can invalidate the ‘valid votes’ from that process. As a matter of fact, the CCJ held, “Unless and until an election court decides otherwise, the votes already counted by the recount process as valid votes are incapable of being declared invalid by any person or authority.”
Jones has insisted that Lowenfield’s report was prepared in accordance with Section 96 (1) of the Representation of the People Act, and that this report has to be used to declare a President. Moreover, Jones wants the High Court to compel GECOM to declare the results of the elections using the figures declared by the 10 Returning Officers instead.