AG files motion to strike out APNU+AFC’s appeal against dismissal of election petition

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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall 

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall has filed a motion asking the court to strike out APNU+AFC’s appeal against the dismissal of one of its two election petitions.

“There is no statutory or constitutional jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal to hear an election petition dismissed for procedural impropriety or any other reason not stated in Article 163 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana.”

This was among his many arguments in the motion filed Friday asking the Court of Appeal to strike out the Notice of Appeal challenging the dismissal of the second elections petition filed by Brenan Nurse and Monica Thomas on behalf of the APNU+AFC. Nandlall is asking that the appeal be thrown out with costs.

Acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, in January dismissed the petition owing to non-compliance with effecting service on former President David Granger as prescribed under Section 8 of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act and Rule 9 of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Rules. Shortly after the petition was dismissed, lawyers for the petitioners filed an appeal asking that the decision of the Chief Justice be set aside and costs are awarded to them.

But, Thomas and Nurse are arguing that Justice George’s decision is erroneous. They have moved to the Court of Appeal asking that the decision be set aside.

In the Notice of Appeal, Nurse and Thomas are contending that Justice George, in dismissing the party’s second election petition, failed to consider its overriding objective.

Lawyers for the petitioners contended, too, that the acting Chief Justice erred in law and misdirected herself by failing to recognise that the purpose of Rule 9 of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Rules, requiring service of an affidavit is to verify that service was achieved within the time prescribed by the statute, and that an error in the affidavit does not affect the fact of service.

They also contend that the acting Chief Justice erred in law and misdirected herself by following the decision in Eusi Kwayana et al v The Chief Elections Officer et al No. 205 of 1986, which decision in itself was erroneous.

Justice George, in arriving at her decision, among other things, relied on the decision in Eusi Kwayana et al v The Chief Elections Officer et al No. 205 of 1986 and noted that given the guidance outlined in this case, the procedures for the filing of an election petition must be strictly complied with, otherwise it can result in the dismissal of the petition.

APNU+AFC has another election petition before the court. The petitioners, in this case, are Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick. The acting Chief Justice has fixed April 7, 2021, to commence hearing submissions in this case.

In keeping with an order handed down by the Chief Justice, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield has handed over all Statements of Poll (SoPs) and Statements of Recount (SoRs) to the Registrar of the High Court for safekeeping. This petition seeks to challenge the legitimacy of the elections, which a recount showed that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic won