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Even as he lauded the decision of the High Court to dismiss the Election Petition, which challenged the results of the 2020 Elections, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall accused the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) of misleading their supporters into believing that it had won the Elections.
In a video recording released just hours after Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George handed down her ruling in the case – Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick v the Chief Elections Officer (Petition 88) – the Attorney General said the decision is key to the democratic architecture of the country.
“This decision has confirmed that the will of the people as expressed at the March 2nd Elections have been vindicated. This decision has confirmed that the rule of law is operable in Guyana and that the elections were held in accordance with the Constitution and the Laws of Guyana,” the Attorney General said.
The petitioners, through their battery of lawyers led by Senior Counsel John Jeremie and Roysdale Forde, had argued that Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act for which GECOM had relied upon to bring Order 60 (Recount Order) into effect was unconstitutional but the Chief Justice dismissed that contention.
“It also confirmed, in particular, that the recount process, which was embarked upon by GECOM was a lawful one and that GECOM has the powers in circumstances where there are difficulties to do that which is necessary and expedient to bring a satisfactory conclusion to the electoral process,” the Attorney General said.
He said the High Court’s decision should come as no surprise. He said Guyana, in March, 2020 had witnessed the difficulties that arose during the electoral process when the Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo substituted the Statements of Poll with a spreadsheet.
Nandlall said, though claiming it won the elections, the coalition has continuously failed to produce the evidence.
“Up to now, the APNU+AFC has refused, and is refusing to disclose to the public and to the world their Statements of Poll, which they claim they have won the elections upon; that by itself should put to rest issues regarding the credibility and authenticity of their claims,” Nandlall posited.
He said contrary to the narrative being peddled by the Coalition, the National Recount was done in a fair and transparent process under the supervision of the Elections Commission, and the watchful eyes of the CARICOM Observatory team, after the Court had given the greenlight to proceed.
“We all knew that the recount process was done in a fair and transparent way; we all knew that ballots which were counted at that process, were the ballots that were counted on elections night,” he said.
Nandlall failed to say however, that several thousands votes could not be accounted for due to the lack of the relevant documents, yet these votes were deemed valid.
The Attorney General submitted that the Coalition ought not to have filed Petition 88 and or Petition 99, which was earlier dismissed, on the basis that GECOM acted within the confines of the Constitution to remove difficulties that arose.
Petition 99 which was dismissed on a technicality detailed instances of alleged voter fraud. In this petition the coalition had hoped to show the instances of multiple voting, dead persons voting and ballot boxes that lacked statutory documents.
Nandlall said despite laying a number of claims, the Coalition failed to produce the evidence. “They led no evidence, no evidence of the irregularities that they are complaining about, about the use of invalid votes, that there are absence of statutory documents, which would render the results of the elections invalid, even assuming that those are tenable propositions, they did not lead an iota of evidence to establish these allegations that they key parroting every day,” the Attorney General. The coalition did not get a chance to lay over these evidence owing to the fact that the petition that dealt with these was dismissed, because the petitioners had reportedly filed it late. The merit of the case was never heard in the courts.
Nandlall went on to accuse the coalition of misleading its supporters.
“When these petitions were filed, any competent lawyer and any reasonably minded human being, having observed the electoral process would know that these petitions had very little likelihood of success; any person who had a rational mind would have concluded that; yet when they were filed they had a big commotion in front of the High Court, and announced to the whole world, including their supporters that these are the petitions that would bring the PPP down and that the PPP would be ousted from office by these petition…knowing full well that neither of them had any reasonable prospect of success,” the Attorney General submitted.