Ruling on Guyana election today
GEORGETOWN – Acting Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire, will decide today whether or not the injunction granted to a supporter of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to block the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from declaring the results for last Monday’s regional and general elections was justified on the grounds that the votes declared for Region Four were not completely verified.
“Two o’clock tomorrow afternoon or decision. Again it may not be the full, full decision but I would like to render a ruling,” she said after hearing arguments from the lawyers representing GECOM and the PPP/C supporter, Reeaz Holladar.
Last week Thursday, Justice Navindra Singh granted an injunction against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) the Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield and Returning Officer for Region Four Clairmont Mingo.
But four days after polls were held, GECOM released to the media, results for Region Four and, if certified, would result in the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity plus the Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) defeating the main opposition PPP/C by more than 59 000 votes and securing another term in office.
GECOM public relations officer, Yolanda Ward, had forwarded without comment images of Statutory Declaration Form 24. The Form shows the incumbent APNU+AFC securing 136 335 votes while the PPP/C has earned 77 258 a difference of 59 077.
Senior Counsel, Neil Boston, representing GECOM, argued that there was substantial, even if, not 100 per cent compliance that would “make it not invalid” and “substantial compliance does not have to do with the number of ballot boxes or the number of statement of polls (SOP) left to have been checked.
“It has to do with conduct and that is what Mr MIngo did. You may have 558 ballot boxes to count and they might only be able to bring 20 per cent of the votes . . . and those that went before because if the area that they came from could have given you about 70 per cent of the votes,” Boston said, insisting “only the issue of conduct has to do with substantial compliance rather than the issue of ballot boxes”.
Boston said the evidence from everybody at the building where the votes were being counted indicated that Mingoo had been working from Monday to Wednesday, bar a few hours “and then there was bacchanal in the place”.
But Trinidad-based Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes told the Court that the Boston was seeking to resile from the position . . . in the evidential evidence he has put in his affidavits by resort to the presumption of regularity.
“The question as to whether Mr Mingo did the adding up himself or through somebody he was authorised to appoint is one that was raised by him. He in evidence told us exactly what happened and he made it very clear, if you look back at the words he used in his affidavit that the adding up from the statement of poll was done in his absence,” by other electoral persons.
“He has said that very clearly. There is no room for a presumption of regularity anymore,” Mendes said, noting that the Returning Officer, whose decision is under challenge “owes a duty of candour to the Court . . . he must be open, he must put all his cards up on the table and therefore we are to assume when he says he was absent when Miss Miller did all these tabulations and inputted the information into the computer through her clerks that is what he did”.