GECOM to meet today to decide way forward on vote recount

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Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George and Justice Nareshwar Harnanan

Now that the court has cleared the way for the recount of votes cast in the March 2 General and Regional Elections, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is expected to meet today (Wednesday) to decide on the way forward.

According to a source close to the Commission, the meeting is likely to take place at 10:00 hrs today.

The Full Court on Tuesday upheld an appeal filed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo challenging an earlier decision by Justice Franklyn Holder to hear a case brought by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU) candidate Ulita Grace Moore.

That course of litigation had sought to prevent a countrywide recount of the votes under an agreement brokered by a Caribbean Community Initiative that had been agreed to by the major stakeholders: caretaker President David Granger, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, and Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (retd) Claudette Singh.

The arguments were heard by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George and Justice Nareshwar Harnanan on Monday, and the ruling was read on Tuesday by Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George. She also refused an application by Moore’s Attorney, Mayo Robertson, to stay the orders in order to facilitate an appeal.

GECOM Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and Chairperson of GECOM, retired Justice Claudette Singh

As a consequence of the ruling, the injunction against the recount stands discharged, and Moore’s Fixed Date Application has been dismissed on ground that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear it.

Justice Holder had, on Friday last, held that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the injunction filed by Moore against the decision regarding a national recount, but the Chief Justice, in her ruling, pointed out that Justice Holder recognized that Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act prescribes an alternative statutory remedy to the concerns of the Peoples Progressive Party as it relates to validity of the elections results in the form of an election petition.

In handing down her ruling, the CJ was adamant that Article 162 (1) (B) of the Constitution gives wide powers to GECOM to ensure an impartial and fair process, while Section 22 of Act 15 of 2000 supplies and supplements one of many mechanisms to ensure that there is compliance with Article 162.