Judgment on election petition case set for April 26
Kaieteur News – Senior Dominican Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, chief attorney of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), has refuted the allegations outlined in the election petition challenging the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Election results.
Following yesterday’s oral submissions, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire announced that she had hoped to submit an opinion within two weeks but the debates and discussions raised additional time for consideration. Furthermore, it decided to set April 26, 2021 for the ruling on Election Petition # 88. In their written submission to the High Court, petitioners Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, argue that Section 22 of the Act The Electoral (Amendment) Acts are unconstitutional and that Order No. 60 (recount) order) 2020 is invalid, void, void and of no effect.
In that regard, Thorne and Bostwick have asked the High Court to invigorate the results of the March 2, 2020 elections because, in their opinion, it was largely non-compliant with the law relating to the conduct of the elections in Guyana. However, Astaphan told the Chief Justice (s) yesterday that there was no breach.
According to the GECOM attorney, “Section 22 acquired its constitutional authority and genesis of the Constitution… Order 60 is also fully consistent with the Constitution and the purpose was transparent, in good faith enacted and intended to remove the difficulties of allowing for a statement. ”
The lawyer noted that since there was difficulty with the elections, Order No. 60 of 2020 was created by virtue of Article 162 (1) (b) of the Constitution and Section 22 of the Electoral Acts (Amendment) Act to resolve irregularities, irregularities, and inconsistencies that occur in the elections process and to determine a final credible account.
In those circumstances, Astaphan told the court, “We do not admit any breach at all.”
Astaphan also argued that the petitioners need to prove complete non-compliance with the law, as they have not done so in their written or oral submissions.
The lawyer specifically referred to Article 162 (1) (b) of the Guyana Constitution.
It stated that “Acts of Parliament must be read subject to the overriding powers of the Constitution which gives GECOM discretion as to how the law was to be applied to allow a fair, impartial interpretation of the law.”
Further, the lawyer quoted Justice Claudette Singh’s ruling in Esther Pereira’s case against the Chief Returning Officer.
Astaphan, in her ruling, noted that Justice Singh had made it abundantly clear that breaking the law in Guyana is not sufficient to invalidate election results.
He stressed “… total non-compliance with the law as Justice Singh holds where he said there was no ID [card]… Significant non-compliance with constitutional provisions for free and fair elections in Guyana, because it would have had the effect of denying people the right to vote simply because they did not have an identity card, when the law would actually allow them to vote , after registration, without ID. ”
The solicitor noted that the petitioners had shown complete non-compliance
“Cutting alone is not enough. It must be a significant non-compliance that presents something; introduce a principle that is hostile to the basic constitutional principle, ”he stressed.
As such, Astaphan told the Chief Justice that even if she finds there was a breach, there were no consequences that affected the conduct or outcome of the count, and therefore the election petition should be dismissed. In his submissions, chief attorney for the petitioners, John Jeremie, asked the court to decide, among other things, questions as to whether the elections have been held lawfully or whether the results have been held, or who may have been affected by any unlawful act or omission and as a result, have the seats in the National Assembly legally allocated.
He highlighted a series of allegations that he believes would lead the court to defy the constitutionality of the election laws or the legality of the recount order, which led to the victory of the ruling Party’s Civic Progressive Party (PPP / C).
According to Jeremie, Order 60 ultra vires Article 163 of the Guyana constitution because the settlement of election disputes must be settled through an election petition. He added that if GECOM could not make laws, then the order is constitutionally poor.