APNU/AFC insists no need to release SoPs

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APNU/AFC moments after filing their election petition on August 31, 2020. L-R: Roysdale Forde, Khemraj Ramjattan, Joseph Harmon, David Granger

Even as the APNU/AFC Coalition contends that it is the rightful winner of the March 2, 2020 elections, the party is still adamant that there is no need to make its Statements of Poll (SoPs) public as it proceeds with the election petitions filed.

During a press conference on Thursday, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, who is one of the leading attorneys representing the Coalition, told reporters that the issue of the SoPs does not form any part of their case.

He therefore argued that there will be no need to rely on them during the hearing of the two elections petitions filed to challenge the outcome of the March 2 polls.

“Insofar as those issues we’ve raised in our elections petition form the basis of substructure in our case, in my opinion, we do not need to rely first factually or evidentially on those statements of poll; and secondly, the very fact that the declarations were made on the Recount requires us to pay attention to the Statements of Recount and the certificates of district tabulation, and those documents which were generated and fabricated for the purpose of delivering an elections results for the PPP and installing them as the Government of this country,” Forde posited.

The Coalition has claimed it won the March 2 elections but is yet to release the SoPs which contain the votes calculated at each polling stations, which when tabulated would indicate the winner.

However, a National Recount exercise conducted subsequently revealed that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in fact won the elections by 15,416 votes over the APNU/AFC.

But the Coalition is now challenging the processes used to conduct the recount and its outcome, among other things, in its two petitions.

In fact, Forde pointed out on Thursday that they will be using the anomalies and irregularities highlighted in the Observation Reports during the recount as well as the reports of the Chief Elections Officer to argue its case and have the court rule that either new elections are held or that the electoral laws were breached, hence the “APNU/AFC be declared the winner of the elections”.

The latter, however, would be dependent on the SoPs which the Coalition is keen on keeping from public view.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George set October 22 for a case management hearing for the two petitions.

According to S.C. Forde, they are hoping to get early dates for the commencement of the trials at next week’s hearing. He further asserted that there should be no protracted delays during the trials.

“The issues that arose…are already set out in observation reports and in reports before the [Guyana] Elections Commission. There is no need for an extensive period of acquisition of evidence, interlocutory proceedings filed to obtain evidence, because the Elections Commission itself has engaged in a process which would have provided each and every party to these elections with the necessary information. Therefore, that forms part of the elections petition, and we’ve presented that information to the court,” he stated.

To this end, he anticipates that the matters could be dealt with in eight months’ time; and, as such, wants early trial dates.

“The APNU+AFC Coalition looks forward to the early commencement of hearings, and is eager to present its compelling case in court, and is confident that the Elections Petitions will succeed,” the Senior Counsel noted.

According to Forde, the Coalition’s petitions are meritorious and are based on “solid facts and contentions”.

This position was supported by his colleague, Opposition Parliamentarian Amanza Walton-Desir, who further told reporters during Thursday’s press conference that there is merit in the irregularities highlighted by the Coalition, and so the question now is how speedy the court will dispose of the matters.