BREAKING NEWS: CJ dismisses APNU+AFC’s election petition

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George has dismissed the election petition filed by the APNU+AFC Coalition which is seeking to vitiate the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

She delivered the ruling moments ago during a virtual proceeding.

In her judgement, Justice George contended that nothing in the petition supports the claims of the petitioners as it relates to irregularities during the elections.

Further, she ruled that there were no breaches or violations by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), that would make the election a sham or travesty.

During arguments, GECOM, Attorney General Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall, and the then Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo [now Vice President] had maintained that there is nothing unconstitutional about Order #60 of 2020 and Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act as is being contended by petitioners Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick.

In this regard, they have dismissed the petitioners’ argument that Order #60, otherwise known as the recount order, is invalid, null, void, and of no effect.

During the oral presentation, Thorne and Bostwick argued that Order #60 and Section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act are unconstitutional, and as such, the results of the elections which resulted in a win for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic should be invalidated since there was total non-compliance with the law regarding the conduct of elections.

Order #60 was created pursuant to Section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act and Article 162 of the Constitution of Guyana to resolve irregularities, anomalies, and discrepancies coming out of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections and to determine a final credible count before declaring the results of the elections which are required by the Representation of the People Act and the Constitution.

GECOM, Jagdeo, and Nandlall have submitted that under Article 162 of the Constitution, GECOM has the authority to issue Order #60. Against this backdrop, they argued that the petitioners failed to present any evidence upon which the results of the elections can be invalidated.

Nandlall, in his submissions to the court, cited case laws and underscored that Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act was promulgated because framers of the Constitution thought that Article 162 was inadequate and needed to be boosted to handle situations like the 1997 election controversy.

The petitioners, however, contended that once there is proof of substantial departure from the electoral laws, the election results ought to be invalidated as no evidence is required to prove that the results of the elections were affected.

According to the petitioners, the unconstitutionality of Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act and Order #60 mark a clear departure from the democratic principles which ought to govern elections and the declaration of results such that the March 2, 2020 Elections was a sham and a travesty to the ordinary Guyanese man/woman.