Chief Justice Roxane George on Wednesday concluded oral arguments in the only election petition left standing for the APNU/AFC.
And the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Attorney General Senior Counsel Anil Nandlall, and the then Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo [now Vice President] are maintaining that there is nothing unconstitutional about Order #60 of 2020 and Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act as is being contended by petitioners Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick.
In this regard, they have dismissed the petitioners’ argument that Order #60, otherwise known as the recount order, is invalid, null, void, and of no effect.
Thorne and Bostwick argue that Order #60 and Section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act are unconstitutional, and as such, the results of the elections which resulted in a win for the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic should be invalidated since there was total non-compliance with the law regarding the conduct of elections.
Order #60 was created pursuant to Section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act and Article 162 of the Constitution of Guyana to resolve irregularities, anomalies, and discrepancies coming out of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections and to determine a final credible count before declaring the results of the elections which are required by the Representation of the People Act and the Constitution.
GECOM, Jagdeo, and Nandlall have submitted that under Article 162 of the Constitution GECOM has the authority to issue Order #60.
Against this backdrop, they argue that the petitioners have failed to present any evidence upon which the results of the elections can be invalidated.
Nandlall, in his submissions to the Court, cited case laws and underscored that Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act was promulgated because framers of the Constitution thought that Article 162 was inadequate and needed to be boosted to handle situations like the 1997 election controversy.
The petitioners, however, contend that once there is proof of substantial departure from the electoral laws the election results ought to be invalidated as no evidence is required to prove that the results of the elections were affected.
According to the petitioners, the unconstitutionality of Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act and Order #60 mark a clear departure from the democratic principles which ought to govern elections and the declaration of results such that the March 2, 2020 Elections was a sham and a travesty to the ordinary Guyanese man/woman.
As such, they are asking the High Court to vitiate the results of the election as it was substantially not in compliance with the law in relation to the conduct of the elections. The Chief Justice will hand down her ruling in the case on Monday, April 26, 2021, at 11:00am.