Thursday, April 18, 2024

Silent protest ahead of Guyana election decision

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Georgetown – Supporters of the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Monday staged a silent protest ahead of the ruling by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear an appeal filed by two senior members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in relation to the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

The CCJ, Guyana’s highest court, is set to deliver its ruling on Wednesday in the appeal filed by Opposition Lead, filed 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 late last month ordered that the words are to be interpreted as meaning ‘more valid votes are cast’. The Court also ordered the decision be stayed for three days. The applicants, who were added as respondents before the Court of Appeal, claim 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.

Private citizen, Eslyn David, mounted her challenge before the appellate court pursuant to Article 177 (4) of the Constitution, which states “the Court of Appeal shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President in so far as the question depends upon the qualification of any person for election or the interpretation of this Constitution . . . . ”

The PPP/C has said it won the last elections based on the national recount that ended on June 9. But the APNU has said that there were several irregularities and anomalies and wants the polls to be annulled.

The protesters on Monday took to the streets across the country in support of the coalition’s position that the CCJ has no jurisdiction in the matter

But the police moved in on the demonstrators in keeping with the measures against latge gatherings as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) measures.

During the court matter last Wednesday, Trinidadian Senior Counsel, Reginald Armour said that the CCJ is not a court of “unlimited jurisdiction.

“It is a regional Apex Court presiding over signatory sovereign member states and derives its jurisdictions and powers solely on the terms of its formative treaty, that is to say the agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice.

“Accordingly any consideration as to whether this court has jurisdiction on this intended appeal must start we submit and ends with the true interpretation of the terms of the agreement and in particular article 25(5) and read alongside the Caribbean Court of Justice Act 2004 and the Constitution of Guyana,” said Armour, who is representing Joseph Harmon, the campaign manager of the APNU.

But another Trinidadian Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who is representing Jagdeo and Ali, told the CCJ that the matter was one for an election petition since the election in itself had not yet been completed and no winner had been officially declared.

He said the Guyana Constitution provides for raising a question about the “validity of an election of a president is to raise that question after the election has occurred. (CMC)

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