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—Shuman says as he commends Court of Appeal ruling in election petition case
Deputy Speaker and Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party, Lenox Shuman said that the country cannot move forward until everyone knows what played out in the 2020 elections and attempts are made to fix it. To this end he commended the ruling of the Court of Appeal in relation to the election petition case.
“I have noted the ruling of the Court of Appeal and the dissenting ruling of one of our Learned Jurist and express my gratitude to the Judges. It is a matter of national importance that such a case is heard to uncover all the details and discrepancies that occurred in the Elections of 2020 so that we may find ways to correct them,” Shuman said.
He said to take Electoral Law Reform without a true understanding of the events that occurred in 2020 stands to do our entire reform process and our nation an injustice. “Electoral reform is already in a process that starts from the midsection instead of starting with constitutional reform as the initiating process that addresses the issues at the root. I continue to have confidence in the Justice system in Guyana with our apex court as the CCJ and ask that all citizens respect the ruling of our learned Judges in such a sensitive matter. At this juncture, the veil over elections 2020 is the “only thing” that needs to be defrocked.”
The Court of Appeal, in a majority decision earlier this week ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear an appeal challenging the High Court’s decision to nullify Election Petition 99 over non-compliance of service. Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards headed down the decision on Tuesday alongside Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory-Barnes and Rishi Persaud in the case – Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse v the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and others. Justice Persaud, however, was the dissenting voice.
Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, the lead attorney representing the appellants, lauded the ruling. “The court of appeal in a historic decision found that it has jurisdiction to entertain an appeal when an election petition has been dismissed on procedural grounds. In so doing the court dismissed the Motion filed by Douglas Mendes SC on behalf of Bharat Jagdeo and by Mohabir Nandalall SC on behalf of the Government of Guyana,” Forde explained, shortly after the conclusion of the case.
When the matter came up in June, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes – the attorney representing the Leader of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo – argued that the appellate court had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. He submitted that the appeal is not covered under Article 163 (3) of the Constitution, and as a consequent, the Court has no jurisdiction. But both the Chancellor and Justice Gregory-Barnes agreed with the arguments advanced by Forde that Article 163 of the Constitution confers jurisdiction on the Court of Appeal to entertain an appeal when an election petition has been dismissed on procedural grounds.
However, shortly after the ruling Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall accused Justices: Cummings-Edwards and Gregory of being biased and publicly called for them to be defrocked. His statement has been roundly condemned by political parties as well as the Guyana Bar Council.