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    March 31

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Injunction blocks elections recount in Guyana

CMC,

Added 17 March 2020

david-granger

President of Guyana David Granger. (GP)

GEORGETOWN – A High Court judge Tuesday granted an injunction against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) preventing it from carrying out a national recount of votes from the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

Justice Franklyn Holder said that the injunction remains in effect pending a hearing on Friday, March 20.

The injunction was granted to the private citizen, Ulita Moore and restrains GECOM from setting aside or varying the declarations already made by the ten electoral districts with any other documents or declarations until the hearing and determination of the judicial review of the application.

The interim injunction also restrains GECOM from permitting or authorising “any person or persons to any agreement between the President of Guyana and the Leader of the Opposition and or any agreement between the Guyana Election Commission and the Caribbean Community or at all, to count or recount any ballots cast by electors at the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections until the hearing   and determination of the judicial review application.”

Earlier, GECOM had said that the recounting of ballots in the election “would commence immediately” after it had conducted the legal examination of a document signed by President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

Both Granger and Jagdeo had last weekend agreed to the national recount exercise following discussions with the chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.

In a statement, GECOM said that it “is in receipt of a copy of the Aide Memoire” signed by both men and witnessed by CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque.

“As a consequence, the Commission is currently examining the legal ramifications of this agreement in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana,” GECOM said, adding while it has considered the proposal and has implemented systems for the organisation of the exercise “as a safeguard mechanism, it is necessary for all legal issues to be properly addressed including the gazetting of the process as requested by the high level CARICOM delegation

“Once finalised the counting would commence immediately. The outcome of the Commission’s decision in this regard would be communicated and adequate notice on the start time for the exercise would be provided,” the GECOM statement, signed but its public relations officer, Yolanda Ward, indicated.

Over the last weekend, a five-member independent CARICOM team arrived here to overlook the recount of votes in all 10 Regions. The CARICOM team is due to leave here on Tuesday following the High Court granting the injunction.

Granger had asked Mottley to ensure that the CARICOM Initiative operates within the legal framework of the Constitution of Guyana and respect the role of the Elections Commission and the rulings of the Supreme Court.

Justice Holder in granting the interim injunction restrains GECOM from “setting  aside or varying  the Declaration  of the Returning Officer  ofthe  ten  (10)  electoral   Districts   and  from  substituting   or replacing  the said Declaration  of the Returning  Officer  of the ten (10) electoral  districts  with  any  other  documents or  declarations  until the hearing and determination  of the judicial review application filed herein”

The interim also restrains the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield from submitting any report of the total votes cast for each List of Candidates pursuant to Section 96 (1) and (2) of the Representation of the People Act save and except the votes counted and the information furnished  by  the  Returning Officer   under Section  84  (1)  of  the representation of the People Act until the hearing and determination  of the judicial review application filed herein”

The respondents to the Court matter are the Guyana Elections Commission, the Chairman of the Commission and the Chief Elections Officer.

(CMC)

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