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Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon said the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) remains hopeful that Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George will uphold the Election Petition Applications, noting that such a move would pave the way for the substantive cases to be heard.
Once heard, the cases will determine the validity of the highly disputed 2020 General and Regional Elections.
Come Monday, January 18, 2021, the Chief Justice is expected to rule on a number of primary issues including that of service on the respondents in both cases – Petitions 88 and 99.
The Election Petitions seek to have the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections vitiated on the grounds that the Recount Order (Order No. 60), on which the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), relied was not only invalid but that the Law – Section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act – on which it was created, is unconstitutional and conflicts with the Representation of the People Act.
Further, they intend to prove that GECOM failed to conduct free and fair elections in keeping with its constitutional requirements. However, during the Case Management Conference on October 22, 2020, preliminary issues were raised with respect to defective service.
“We do expect a favourable ruling but it is the court that will make that determination, so we don’t want to prejudge what the judge is going to say. But once there is a favorable ruling, we look forward to the substantive hearing of the petitions before the court,” the Opposition Leader said during a virtual press conference on Friday.
Bharrat Jagdeo, the fourth named respondent, has filed two Notices of Application seeking to have Petition 99 struck out, on the grounds that all of the Petition Documents: Notice of Presentation of Petition, and the Notice of Security for Cost, were not properly served on the 1st, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Respondents.
Further, through his Attorney Douglas Mendes, Jagdeo has argued that there is late service of the Petition documents on the Second Named Respondent, David Granger.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall has also filed a Notice of Application to strike out Petition 99 for Non-Compliance with the provisions of service.
However, the petitioners, through their attorneys, have argued that there was no defective service, and have asked the Court to proceed with the substantive matter.
The Opposition Leader said should there be an “adverse ruling,” the APNU+AFC, through the petitioners, will appeal the decision. However, he said the coalition remains optimistic that the decision will be in its favor.
“What we want is for the substantive matters, which we have raised in both petitions to be heard by the court, so that it becomes a record of the court,” Harmon said.
The ruling will be handed down by the Chief Justice at 13:30hts on Monday.