OPINION: Nagamootoo clutching at thin air

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Christopher Ram

An opinion piece written by political commentator, Christopher Ram:

Shortly after the decision by the Court of Appeal in the case brought by Eslyn David vs. GECOM in which a number of others were joined, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement which concluded “that on the basis of the valid votes, the incumbent Coalition Government will be re-elected for a second term. That is absolute and dangerous nonsense.

The prime minister is of course an attorney at law with some considerable experience. He is therefore presumed to understand how to read and understand judgments of the court.

He must be aware that the applicant, clearly financed and supported by the Coalition, sought six separate orders and or declarations. Of these five were despatched in short order and rejected.

Among those rejected were declarations that:
1. A Declaration that GECOM failed to act in accordance with the terms of the recount Order # 60 of 2020 which was carefully crafted to favour the APNU+AFC.
2. An Order restraining Lowenfield from complying with the Direction of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission in relation to Article 177 (2) (b) which would give the Presidency to Irfaan Ally.
3. An Order restraining Lowenfield from complying with the Direction of the Chairman of the Guyana Election Commission in a Letter dated the 16th day of June, 2020 to submit an Elections Report under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act without the Guyana Elections Commission determining the final credible count and or the credibility of the he result of the General and Regional Elections.
4. An Order restraining the Chief Elections Officer from submitting to the Guyana Elections Commission an Elections Report under Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution containing votes which are not credible within the meaning of Order No. 60 of 2020.
5. An Order restraining the Chief Elections Officer from submitting to the Elections Commission an Elections Report under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act which allocates regional and top-up seats to the Parties.

In other words, the Court granted to David and the Coalition nothing of substance or value. Nagamootoo is clutching at thin air.

Former Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

What makes it dangerous is that he knows what he has said is completely baloney but that there will be persons who will believe what he says because he is the Prime Minister.

The only Order which the Court granted was that there be an interpretation of the words “more votes are cast” in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Guyana. The Court ruled that this means valid votes while rejecting the attempt to have inserted the notion of credible votes.

It is a bold thing for any court to insert any words in a statute and worse when that statute is the supreme law. Lord Mersey in Thompson v Goolds [1910] said: ‘It is a strong thing to read into an Act of Parliament words which are not there, and in the absence of clear necessity (emphasis added) it is a wrong thing to do.’ I recall Chancellor Massiah endorsing those words in the Mohammed Alli case and it remains sound advice.

I am not criticising the Courts for doing so except to say that they must be aware that votes must mean valid votes since it would be an absurdity to think that an unlawful, illegal, fake or spoilt vote would be considered a valid vote. In fact section 87 of the Representation of the People Act spell out the votes which must be rejected as invalid and not counted for any candidate or party. Nagamootoo must be aware that both the Statements of Polls which showed that the APNU+AFC had lost the elections and the Statements of Recounts which were endorsed by GECOM, local and international observers and the CARICOM Scrutineering Team counted only valid votes as defined by ROPA.

Nagamootoo – and his portfolio of Chronicle and Department of Public Information – are playing a very dangerous and opportunistic game in building the hopes of the supporters of the Coalition when in fact even their court options are running out. The decision by the Court of Appeal has added nothing and has taken away nothing from the March elections. At the end of all this shenanigans and timewasting that is costing the country billions, Nagamootoo and his Coalition will be seen as poor losers.