Coalition to appeal CJ ruling on election petition

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Senior Counsel, Roysdale Forde

…says supplementary affidavits prove  Granger was served on time 

By Svetlana Marshall

The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Chance (APNU+AFC) has vowed to appeal the decision of Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George that defective service on former President David Granger, in the case Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse vs. the Chief Elections Officer and others, had rendered the Petition (99) a nullity.

Moments after the Chief Justice delivered her ruling on Monday, APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde told reporters, during a virtual press conference, that the decision was bad in law, and will certainly be challenged.

In her ruling, Chief Justice George concluded that the petitioners – Thomas and Nurse – failed to effect service on Granger – the Second Respondent – within the statutory timeframe as required by the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act and Rules.

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The Rules mandate that Respondents, in Election Petitions, be served within five days of the presentation of the Petition, however, the initial petition documents indicated that Granger was served on September 25, 2020, outside of the stipulated timeframe. However, in a Supplementary Affidavit, Nurse told the Court that the APNU+AFC Representative was actually served on September 18, 2020.

But the Chief Justice, in her ruling, said leave was not granted by the Court for the filing of a Supplementary Affidavit and such it meant that there was no Affidavit served before the Court. She was also keen on pointing out that the Supplementary Affidavits were only filed after the issue of service was raised by the Court, and subsequently challenged by the Fourth Respondent, Bharrat Jagdeo, and the Attorney General Anil Nandlall.

However, the APNU+AFC is of the opinion that the Chief Justice failed to consider existing jurisprudence in arriving at her decision, and as such maintains that the Supplementary  Affidavits ought to have been accepted as evidence.

“These propositions, we respectfully say are not reflective of the true state of affairs, firstly in fact, and secondly the true state of affairs in terms of what is required by the law. The National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act does not provide any timeline for the filing of an affidavit of service or even a supplementary affidavit of service. A section of the rules simply provides that the Affidavit must be filed as soon as reasonably practical. The error in the original affidavit meant that the supplementary affidavit was filed in less than three months between the time of the initial service on Mr Granger and the time when the supplementary affidavit was served. So at the time the Chief Justice was delivering her decision there was an affidavit before her of service,” Forde told reporters.

He is of the opinion that the Supplementary Affidavit was filed within a reasonable time as require by the rules, and rejected the conclusion of the Chief Justice there was extensive delays. Forde iterated that the coalition will be filing an appeal, and expects that it will be heard expeditiously and that the “errors” made by the Chief Justice, in the delivery of her ruling, will be corrected.

Petition 99 seeks to vitiate the results of the 2020 General and Regional Elections on the grounds that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) failed to conduct free and fair elections in keeping with its constitutional requirements. The petitioners, through their lawyers, intend to prove that the election was marred by widespread irregularities and cases of electoral fraud.



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