CCJ commits to timely conclusion of matters on Guyana’s political impasse

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has committed to ensuring there is a timely conclusion to all the matters brought before it in relation to the current political impasse in Guyana following the March 2, General and Regional Elections.

During Thursday’s case management conference, which was held via video conference, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders said that the Court will deal with the issue of jurisdiction and all the substantive matters on Wednesday, July 1 at 9:00h.

Justice Saunders outlined four core issues which he said are before the Court.

Firstly, whether the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction to entertain the application that was made to it.

Secondly, if the Court of Appeal lacked such jurisdiction, what is the consequence of this in relation to the proposed appeal to the CCJ.

Thirdly, if the Court of Appeal had rightly assumed jurisdiction, what is the consequence of that in relation to the proposed appeal to the CCJ.

And fourthly, if the Court of Appeal rightly assumed jurisdiction, and it exceeded its jurisdiction, what is the consequence of that in relation to the proposed appeal to the CCJ.

Justice Saunders indicated that in the interest of time, all the issues will be consolidated into one. The Court also set strict timelines for the various parties to make their submissions ahead of Wednesday’s marathon hearing.

PPP/C’s Presidential Candidate, Dr Irfaan Ali and PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo, through a battery of lawyers led by Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and including Attorneys Anil Nandlall, Devindra Kissoon and Sanjeev Datadin among others, had approached the CCJ on Tuesday for special leave to challenge a decision of Guyana’s Court of Appeal, which asserted jurisdiction and ruled in the Eslyn David matter on Monday that “more votes cast” means “more valid votes cast” in the context of the recount order.

The PPP/C is contending that the Appeal Court’s pronouncements have “plunged the law in total confusion and it is now no longer clear how an election of members of the National Assembly is to be challenged and how the election of the President can be challenged”.

Among the respondents in the case are: A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) supporter Eslyn David, who is represented by a legal team led by Senior Counsel John Jeremie; Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield; GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, represented by Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte-Thomas; Attorney General Basil Williams, who appeared in person, and representatives from the newer political parties – the joinder parties (A New and United Guyana, Liberty and Justice Party and The New Movement) represented by Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran as well as Change Guyana and The Citizen Initiative, represented by Attorney Kashir Khan – that contested the March 2 polls.

Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (Rtd) Claudette Singh had instructed the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, to submit his report based on the figures emanating from the national recount, which show the PPP/C in a landslide victory with over 15,000 votes more than the incumbent APNU/AFC coalition.

However, before Lowenfield submitted his report last week, he was served with the Eslyn David Notice of Motion.

After the Appeal Court’s majority ruling on Monday that is has jurisdiction to hear the case, the CEO went ahead and submitted his report to GECOM disenfranchising more than 115,000 voters. This was despite the Court of Appeal staying its judgement for three days.

The CCJ has since issued an order preventing GECOM from declaring the results of the March 2, 2020 elections until the hearing and determination of the questions raised before it are completed.