Mere hours after President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, inked an agreement to have a Caribbean Community (Caricom) team of specialists supervise a recount of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, an APNU/AFC candidate petitioned the High Court for an injunction to block the activity.
The injunction was filed shortly after US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo signalled at individual sanctions for persons involved in electoral fraud during the March 2020 polls.
People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin has since dismissed the injunction as preposterous and intimated that the action points to factions within the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC).
Updating media operatives in the corridor of the High Court on Tuesday, Datadin noted that the injunction was sought and granted by Justice Franklyn Holder by APNU/AFC candidate, Ulita Grace Moore, for whom an appearance was entered by attorneys B Mayo Robertson and Roger Yearwood.
Datadin told media operatives the injunction was filed against the Commission, the Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh and Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield.
He explained that the ex parte application, which was granted by Justice Holder, whose daughter is married to the personal assistant of Minister of State Joseph Harmon, seeks to prevent GECOM officers from setting aside or varying the declarations that have already been made by the 10 Returning Officers (ROs) until the determination of the action on Friday.
The injunction sought also includes the prevention of authorising on the part of the Commission any action in relation to the agreement that had been inked between Granger and Jagdeo.
He suggested that the development suggests that there are factions in APNU or that the President is “flip-flopping and he is deceiving people.”
Questioning the rationale behind the court action, Datadin questioned “why would you want to stop the recount” and said that it was within the ambit of Guyana’s laws.
He was at the time responding to an earlier statement issued by GECOM’s Public Relations Officer which said that the Commission was seeking legal advice with regards to the agreement for a recount between Granger and Jagdeo.
“Why wouldn’t anyone want the will of the people to be respected?” Datadin questioned before announcing that PPP as an interested party has until Friday to file an application with respect the injunction with a view to having it set aside or discharged.
According to Datadin, “We intend to not let this stand, this is preposterous, how can the leaders agree to something and someone else then go and get someone else to go behind that agreement?”
In a surprising twist to Tuesday’s events, Attorney-at-Law Roger Yearwood, whose name is on the application on behalf of Moore, later took to his social media page, denying any involvement in filing the injunction on behalf of the incumbent coalition.
He expressed surprise at the document, saying: “Saw my name on the record in this election matter in the High Court but I’m not on record in that matter.”
Labelling this act a form of impersonation, he contended that they were ‘profiting’ from his name.
Suspended from Bar
On the other hand, the other attorney named on the petition, Bonar Mayo Robertson was suspended by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board in 2005, in relation to a personal injury case. Guyana Times received records which showed that Robertson would have divided his client’s settlement funds to pay himself, and later failed to notify his client or medical providers that he was holding funds for them. It was also found that he failed to file suit on her behalf in a timely manner and then failed to terminate the representation properly.
On Tuesday afternoon, the high-level Caricom team along with Secretary General Irwin LaRoque visited the GECOM Secretariat, where they formally withdrew from the recounting – a process in which they would have offered oversight.
This was later confirmed by the Secretariat, which indicated via a statement, “The high-level independent Caricom delegation has indicated that they would withdraw from the process.”
The team was sent under the auspices of the Caricom Chair, Mia Mottley after Chief Justice Roxane George gave her judgement that the Returning Officer for Region Four acted unlawfully when he declared unverified results for that district. For three days, they would have mobilised to commence the recount, which was obstructed by a mob of delays prior to the injunction.
Orchestrated plan to thwart recount
Speaking to the media after the engagement, Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj indicated that the Caricom team was highly motivated and showed great interest in resolving the electoral shenanigans.
Gunraj referred to the outcome as an unfortunate one. Events over the past three days were regarded as an orchestrated plan to thwart the work of the high-level team.
“This is very unfortunate…The will of Caricom as a whole was thwarted by deliberate actions I believe, of persons to prevent these people from doing their work. But that thwarting of the will of the people is not strange. What we have seen as well from the Guyana Elections Commission itself over the last few days,” the Commissioner expressed.
Gunraj went on to say that there should be mature leadership from all sides, to ensure that the country moves forward, free from sanctions and other limitations.
Meanwhile, Granger in a statement on Tuesday evening said that he is “deeply disappointed” that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) initiative has stalled. However, his statement did not address the fact that Moore was a candidate on his list of candidates for the Local Government Elections.