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    March 31

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GECOM will wait on High Court

CMC,

Added 26 March 2020

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GEORGETOWN – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Wednesday said it is awaiting the outcome of several legal matters at the High Court before it takes any “further actions” regarding the release of the results of the March 2 regional and general election.

In a statement, GECOM said it has taken note of the calls in the public domain by political parties and other stakeholders “for the agency to take certain decisions aimed at ensuring the electoral process ends within the shortest possible time”.

But it said “while the anxiety and frustration of the electorate is understandable, the Commission is cognizant that the matter is sub Judice and therefore awaits the outcome of the legal proceedings currently engaging the attention of the Court to inform its deliberations and next steps”.

High Court Judge, Justice Franklyn Holder, is expected to rule on Friday as to whether or not the court has the jurisdiction to hear an application for a judicial review of GECOM’s decision to order a recount of the ballots cast in the elections.

Attorney’s representing the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) have asked the judge to find that the Court cannot hear the judicial review case, after the attorneys representing the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, said the High Court could not order his client to produce the Statements of Poll in his possession.

The lawyers from both sides have to submit written arguments on Wednesday and Thursday before they return to Court on Friday for further directions on the issue of jurisdiction.

Last week, the judge had granted an interim injunction to Ulita Grace Moore, who requested that the Court prevent GECOM from carrying out a national recount of votes cast in the elections.

The recount was based on a request made by President David Granger to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and agreed to by the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

But Moore’s application cited the unconstitutionality of such action and the CARICOM independent delegation that was supposed to have overseen the recount has since left Guyana.

In its statement, GECOM said as an ‘autonomous constitutional agency” it is guided by a legal framework “and therefore it is imperative that it abides by the decisions of the Court.

“In this regard, the Commission reiterates its commitment at ensuring the 2nd March, 2020 General and Regional Elections concludes in a manner by the Court.

GECOM said that thought it might appear that it is “silent and not taking all necessary steps to arrive at a conclusive decision, the fact that injunctions were granted retraining GECOM officials from proceeding with the national recount supervised by CARICOM and setting aside or varying the declaration of the Returning Officers of the 10 electoral districts and from substituting or replacing the said declaration of the Returning Officers until the hearing and determination of the judicial review, the Commission cannot pronounce on this matter.

“In this regard, until these matters are properly ventilated in Court and a decision is given, GECOM is unable to take any further actions,” the Commission added. (CMC)

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