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Today the Court of Appeal ruled the appeal to a High Court’s decision of an election petition by the opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), be heard soonest. The Court was presided over by acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud
Roysdale Forde, S.C, attorney for appellants Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick, on August 30, 2022 filed a Notice of Motion in the Court of Appeal seeking an early date for the hearing and determination of the appeal filed on May 31, 2021.
The case deals with acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire’s ruling on April 26, 2021, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Order 60 of 2020 was not in violation of the Constitution. The petitioners appealed the ruling.
They are contending, Section 22 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act and Order 60, which were used to facilitate the National Recount of votes cast in the March 2020 General and Regional Elections, by their amplitude of power contravened the doctrine of separation of powers inherent in the Constitution of Guyana. The appellants further contended the application of Section 22 and Order 60 conflicted with Article 177 of the Constitution.
Forde drew to the court’s attention that since March 17, 2022 a request was made to the Registry to the Court of Appeal for an urgent hearing on the ground the case is of national importance but later informed the Appeal could not be fixed because the Registry was not in possession of a written copy of the acting Chief Justice’s decisions.
Pointing to the apparent administrative deficiency, the appellants, through their lawyer, said they have “suffered a substantial prejudice by the failure to have the full decision made and laid over to the court.”
However, attorney-at-Law Douglas Mendes, SC, appearing for Bharrat Jagdeo, People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP/C) Representative of the List of Candidates, questioned why the appellants took 19 months before taking steps to have the matter heard soonest. The contention was dismissed by the Court
“A party or an applicant should not be turned away from the seat of justice given the nature of this matter and, therefore, in the interest of justice we will grant the application, as filed or sought by Mr. Forde,” determined the acting Chancellor.
November 1st has been set by the Appeal Court for the status of the records, including the full judgement by the Chief Justice, to be handed over. Forde has been given seven (7) days from October 3 to serve the Notice of Appeal on the other parties.