Chief Justice Roxane George has ruled that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) did not violate the Constitution when it brought into effect Order 60, triggering the recount of votes cast in the March 2020 General Elections. In fact, the CJ declared that the commission did not violate any of the laws governing elections in Guyana.
She made this ruling moment ago, when she dismissed the second election petition (88/20) filed by A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) supporters. The CJ noted that GECOM acted lawfully, and within its mandate to deliver the results of that highly contested, controversial electoral process.
“I hold that in order to exercise general direction and supervision, and have administrative conduct of the elections, GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) had to ensure that the lawful and proper implementation of the RPA (Representation of the People Act) in Section 22. This was done lawfully by GECOM via Order 60; enabling it to issue instructions and take actions as appeared necessary and expedient to resolve the controversies as part of its responsibility to complete the elections process by delivering the results,” she said.
The CJ added, “there was no breach or violation or noncompliance by GECOM of the Constitution or the law governing elections, such as to make the elections a sham or a travesty as claimed by the petitioners.”
George said that in cases such as this one, one has to look at the Constitution for the raison d’être (reason or justification for existence) of the ordinary or subsidiary legislation. She noted that Article 162 so provides.
“So I hold that both Section 22 and Order 60 are intra vires (inside the powers); neither provision offends the Constitution”.
Order 60 was brought into effect by the Chairperson of GECOM, Justice (Retired) Claudette Singh, following consultations with the then President, David Granger; Leader of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo; and former Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairperson, the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. The order gave life to the National Recount process after controversy erupted over the Region Four Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo’s declaration. All the parties mentioned agreed to the process to end the political standoff.
The CJ’s ruling today comes almost four months after she dismissed a previous Opposition petition (99/20). That was thrown out after it was found that there was non-adherence by the petitioners to satisfy prerequisites that relate to serving necessary documentation to respondents within the stipulated time. Former President, David Granger was served beyond the parameters of what was stipulated.
Petition 99 was based on allegations of several irregularities in the conduct of the elections including: “widespread voter impersonation; widespread noncompliance with documentation; the flawed voters’ list; and several other irregularities”.