Jagdeo welcomes Appeal Court’s decision, says GECOM must now urgently declare recount results

Bharrat Jagdeo

General Secretary of the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, has welcomed the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal in dismissing the challenge brought by APNU/AFC supporter Misenga Jones, and called on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to move with haste in making a final declaration of the March 2 polls.

Jones was seeking to overturn the ruling handed down by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George who had determined that the recount results must be used as a basis for the final declaration by GECOM.

The appeal was heard by Appellate Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud, in association with High Court Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.

“We are pleased that the decision was unanimous and it justifies all that the people who have been fighting for democracy have been saying; that (Chief Elections Officer, Keith) Lowenfield has been acting illegally…and he has no authority to act in that manner…It is the commission that makes the decision,” Jagdeo said in brief comments following the ruling.

Jagdeo posited that based on the Court’s ruling, it is the Elections Commission that has the power in relation to the final declaration and not Lowenfield.

“I would urge the Commission and Justice (Claudette) Singh to act urgently, the country has waited for a very long time, everyone agreed that these matters have been aired ad nauseum. The Courts have been abused; and it is time to move on,” Jagdeo said.

Jagdeo, a former President, pointed out that all the matters filed in this case were matters filed in other cases and already decided upon by the Courts.

He cited the ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and Guyana High Court adding; “the Court cannot be doing the same thing over to delay the declaration of the results”.

Jagdeo said among the clear decisions enforced in the ruling today is that the Commission has the sole authority to manage the electoral process. He noted that barring a few disagreements on the process, the Court made it clear that it doesn’t have any jurisdiction to interfere with the work of the Commission.

He reminded of the decision of the Court that Lowenfield is just an employee/ functionary of the commission and must follow its directives.

Additionally, Jagdeo noted that all of the Judges pointed to the decision of the CCJ which said that the national recount stands, and that the Order establishing the recount could only be challenged through an elections petition.

He also reminded that the Court upheld the ruling of the Chief Justice that GECOM cannot resurrect the March 13 declarations by the ten Returning Officers since the national recount results have overtaken that process.

In relation to the recount process, Jagdeo reminded that Justice Gregory contended that Lownefield was in-charge of the recount process which was carried out at one location; and hence, there should be no difficulty for him to tabulate the recount figures and present same to the Commission for declaration.

Meanwhile, Jagdeo said he was disappointed with manner in which the Court treated with the request for a Stay by the APNU/AFC’s legal representatives.

“We were shocked to see how the court tolerated the nonsensical arguments that were proffered to justify the Stay”.

He asserted that the Court did not answer the question posed by SC Douglas Mendes regarding what the Stay really meant; since “there was nothing to stay”.

The General Secretary contended that this is yet another blatant attempt to stall the elections declaration.

The national recount has shown that the PPP/C has won the March 2 polls with in excess of 15,000 votes.