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CCJ to hear Guyana’s elections case July 1

CCJ to hear Guyana’s elections case July 1
President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders


PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Thursday said it has given no indication as to whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear an appeal filed by the two senior members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in relation to a Court of Appeal ruling in Guyana regarding the disputed March 2 regional and general election in that country.

President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders, told the attorneys for all the parties during the case management conference that contrary to public statements being made outside of the court, “we have not decided the issue of jurisdiction”.

“It is an issue we have to decide (and) in order to decide we have to put in place certain management processes and receive your submissions and that is all that is being done up to this point,” he said.

The CCJ, which is Guyana’s highest court, also indicated that it wanted to reassure the entire world and specifically the people of Guyana that it “will treat with this matter on the basis of what is submitted.

“We are not going to have regard to anything outside of this court,” Justice Saunders told the parties.

Guyana’s Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Irfaan Ali, the PPP/C presidential candidate, filed a Notice of Motion before the CCJ for several reliefs, including an interpretation of the words “more votes are cast” in Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution of Guyana.

The Court of Appeal in its decision ordered that the words are to be interpreted as meaning “more valid votes are cast”. The Court also ordered the decision to stay for three days. The applicants, who were added as respondents before the Court of Appeal, claiming that the decision was wrong for many reasons, including that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to hear and determine the Notice of Motion.

On Monday, Justices Brassington Reynolds and Dawn Gregory ruled also that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has a responsibility to determine the final credible count based on quantitative and qualitative assessments of the observation report, in keeping with provisions of the original order and in the final paragraph of the amended order.

But in his minority ruling, Justice Rishi Persaud ruled that the motion was “premature” and “wholly ill-conceived” and that the applicant should have awaited to take the matter before the High Court, after GECOM would have announced the official election results.

The PPP/C has said that it won the elections based on the national recount of votes that ended on June 9. But the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), has said that the polls were filled with irregularities and anomalies and wants it annulled.

Later on Monday, the CCJ issued an order informing all parties to the dispute to maintain the status quo until further order and hold a case management conference with a view towards a full hearing of all the matters in dispute on Wednesday, July 1.

Justice Saunders said that the order remains in effect until the matter is concluded.