‘Nation awaits recount’ – Gunraj says no legal impediment preventing process from beginning

Justices Rishi Persaud, Dawn Gregory and Michael Brassington.

Opposition Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj, said the decision to recount all of the ballots cast in the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections has already been made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), and a ruling by the Court of Appeal in the matter on Sunday now means there’s no legal impediment to this process beginning.

The ruling was made by Court of Appeal President, Justices Dawn Gregory, Brassington Reynolds and Rishi Persaud.

The PPP Commissioner reiterated that “it is, and always was, the intention for GECOM to be in charge and control of this process…the due process of observers notwithstanding.”

In light of the ruling, Gunraj is insisting, “let’s get on with it…this country waits.”

Commissioner Sase Gunraj and GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh

Gunraj’s sentiments were also shared by Presidential Candidate for A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Ralph Ramkarran, who in a similar post on Sunday following the ruling said, “the recount itself by GECOM has not been ruled unconstitutional.”

He observed too that a previous injunction granted by Justice Franklyn Holder in the lower High Court against GECOM carrying out the recount has not been restored.

According to Ramkarran, “Confusing though it might appear from listening to the decision, the majority of the Court of Appeal appear only to be saying that it is unconstitutional for Caricom to supervise GECOM in the recount and that Justice Holder has jurisdiction to enquire into that.”

The appeal being heard related to a ruling that had been handed down by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George in the Full Court to discharge the injunction granted to A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) candidate, Ulita Moore by High Court Judge Franklin Holder.

That injunction had prevented a national recount under an agreement that was brokered by the Caribbean Community’s Chairperson, Barbadian President, Mia Mottley and agreed to by President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

Justice Gregory-Barnes ruled that the appeal would be allowed in part in that it would be unconstitutional for GECOM to cede its supervisory powers over an election to anybody.

Moore in her challenge had contended that GECOM’s decision to do a recount was at the behest and supervision of Caricom.

According to Gregory-Barnes, the High Court did have jurisdiction to hear issues related to decisions taken in regards to breaches of the constitutionally mandated procedures in the election.

GECOM’s Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh in her submission to the court, through Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte-Thomas had said, “if the court grants the reliefs sought, it is contended that the court would be making decisions for GECOM, which is certainly not the lawful role of the court”.