CJ flags issues with APNU/AFC election petitions

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George this afternoon raised several issues pertaining to the two election petitions filed by the APNU/AFC Coalition.

The issues were raised during the case management conference of the petitions which was heard today.

The APNU/AFC Coalition filed its first election petition on August 31. The second petition was filed on September 17.

However, the CJ raised the issue of “late service” in the case of the second petition; meaning that the named respondents were not served in the stipulated timeframe.

The other issue, the CJ raised, is the fact the interest of the second respondent (who is APNU/AFC Leader David Granger) conflicts with the two petitions, which are seeking for Granger’s APNU/AFC to be declared winner of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

The CJ made this observation based on the fact that a respondent, “who has given notice of intention not to oppose the petition shall not be allowed to appear or act as a party against the petition in any proceedings thereof”.

This, she highlighted, is in keeping with Validity of Elections Act.

The Chief Justice said if one is not opposing the petition, then they have to indicate to the court so they would not have to be a party.

Meanwhile, PPP/C’s attorney, Douglas Mendes, SC raised another point in relation to service of the petitions whereby the PPP/C – which is the fourth named defendant – was not served with the petitions in accordance with established procedures. As a result, Attorney Mendes argued that the petitions are null.

The Chief Justice has asked Mendes to make applications/submissions on this matter and has set dates for the petitioners and the Attorney General Anil Nandlall to respond. This matter is fixed for hearing on November 24 and 25 at 09:30hrs.

With regards to the issues raised by the Chief Justice, dates were also given to the parties involved to file relevant affidavits and that matter is fixed for hearing on November 30 and December 1.

Following the hearing and determination of these preliminary issues, the Chief Justice will then make a decision on how to proceed with the substantive election petitions.

The petitioners, in the first petition filed on August 31, 2020 are Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, both of Albouystown, Georgetown.

The petitioners in the second election petition are Monica Thomas of Lot 58 Norton Street, Lodge, Georgetown, and Bernnan Joette Natasha Nurse of Lot N16-1079 Critchlow Street, Tucville, Georgetown.

They say that during the period January to August 2020, they were employed at the Office of the Elections Agent as Assistants to Harmon, who was appointed as Election Agent for the APNU/AFC.

In the first petition, the Coalition attached the form that embattled Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo used to declare the results for Region Four, which listed the total number of valid votes for all lists as 217,425 for which APNU/AFC received 136,057 votes and the PPP/C 77,231 votes.

In actuality, the results of the National Recount found that there was a total of 202,077 ballots cast in Region Four, with 116,941 for APNU/AFC and 80,920 for PPP/C. As it relates to the overall elections, the gazetted results show that 460,352 valid votes were cast, with 233,336 for the PPP/C and 217,920 for APNU/AFC.