Harmon contradicts Lowenfield & APNU/AFC on Appeal Court not defining “valid votes”

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In his written submissions to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), APNU/AFC’s Joseph Harmon, who had joined the proceedings as an intervener on behalf of the coalition, has confirmed that Guyana’s Court of Appeal did not, define the term “valid votes”.

This position contradicts previous statements issued by the APNU/AFC as well as the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield.

The Appeal Court last Monday ruled in a case filed by APNU/AFC supporter, Eslyn David, that “more votes cast” means “more ‘valid’ votes cast” and that it is for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), not the Chief Elections Officer, to make the determination of a final and credible result.

This meant that the embattled CEO took it upon himself to unilaterally announce that he was mandated by his “constitutional” office after the Court of Appeal decision to not only determine what constitutes a valid vote but ‘credible votes’ and went ahead to disenfranchise over 115,000 voters in his recent report to GECOM.

It was also shown that Lowenfield is a statutory officer and not a constitutional one, subject to the direction of the GECOM Commission.

The unlawfulness of Lowenfield’s action of the mass disenfranchisement of voters was nevertheless supported in the APNU/AFC’s submission to the CCJ, which is hearing the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) challenge to the COA’s ruling.

But Harmon’s submission filed on Sunday states “…the Court of Appeal made no determination as to whether the votes cast were valid or not, and, imposed no criteria by which the validity of votes would be determined. The Court of Appeal simply exercised its jurisdiction in a limited manner to interpret Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution to mean “more valid votes are cast”.”

It went on to say in the following paragraph that “…the effect of the Court of Appeal’s decision is that the election of a President will be determined on the basis of valid votes in accordance with the law. The determination of what constituted valid votes was not a matter that the Court of Appeal, properly, purported to exercise jurisdiction over…”

Harmon’s submission to the CCJ contradicts a recent statement by the caretaker coalition.

Following Lowenfield’s missive on Friday, the APNU/AFC in a subsequent statement backed the CEO, saying that he was clearly empowered and instructed by the Constitution and laws of Guyana, not by any other entity or person, and has discharged his functions within the ambit of the law.

The coalition’s missive further stated, “In keeping with the guidance set out by the Court of Appeal in Eslyn David v. Chief Election Officer, et al., and as he is required to do by the Representation of the People Act [at section 96], the CEO prepared and submitted his Election Report on 23rd June 2020.”