Dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision to uphold the National Recount, lawyers for Tucville Voter Misenga Jones have vowed to appeal the decision no later than today.
In issuing her judgment in the case, Misenga Jones v the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and others on Monday, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire ruled that the National Recount cannot be considered to be invalidated, nor can the declarations made in March be resurrected at this stage of the electoral process. Further, she ruled that Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield must comply with the directives of the Elections Commission.
Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, while thanking the Chief Justice for her ruling, signaled Jones’ intention to appeal the decision of the High Court. “The Judgement is a disappointment. Can I say we are surprised? No! Important issues were not answered or considered,” Forde told the Guyana Chronicle at the conclusion of the ruling. Forde and the team of lawyers led by Trinidad Senior Counsel John Jeremie will be filing an appeal against the High Court’s decision at the level of the Court of Appeal. That application is expected to be filed today. “We are confident that the decision will be set aside on appeal,” Forde told this newspaper.
Meanwhile, in signaling his client’s intention to the Court, Forde sought a commitment from the Chairman of GECOM, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh and the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield that no decision would be taken to affect the outcome of the decision of the Court of Appeal. Forde’s request was in keeping with previous undertakings given to the Court by the GECOM Chair. He had indicated that the appeal would be filed no later than today.
Attorney-General Basil Williams endorsed the oral application made by Forde, noting, too, that it has been the established practice of the GECOM Chair that once the issues relative to the electoral process are engaging the attention of the Court, the Elections Commission will halt the process pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Interjecting, Attorney-at-Law Davindra Kissoon, who is representing the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo and Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali, said the issue of a “stay” would be better canvassed upon the filing of an appeal. “Without an appeal being before the Court, it is very difficult for any party to engage in any discussion concerning a stay,” Kissoon told the Court. He had appeared in association with Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall and Trinidad Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes.
NOT ASKING FOR A STAY
But the Chief Justice clarified that Forde had not asked for a stay but rather undertakings to be given by the CEO and the Chair of the Elections Commission. In response to the request, Attorney-at-Law Kim Kyte-Thomas, who appeared for the Chair of GECOM, offered a commitment to await the decision of the Appeal Court, once the appeal is filed today.
“In respect to the undertaking, I believe so far in all these matters my client has been conducting herself in a particular manner. If indeed the appeal will be filed by tomorrow… my client can undertake to continue to extend that same courtesy,” Kyte-Thomas said.
However, she, too, acknowledged that at the time, the appeal had not been filed, however, she gave her word that if by today the appeal is filed, Justice Singh will extend the same courtesy. The Attorney, however, in drawing the court’s attention to the fact that the elections were held since March, 2020, close to five months ago, said that the electoral process cannot continue to be prolonged. “We have to be fair to the nation,” she posited. Senior Counsel Neil Boston, who appeared on behalf of Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield adopted the position taken by Kyte-Thomas.
Meanwhile, Campaign Manager of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Joseph Harmon expressed disappointment at the decision of the Court. “It is disappointing that in its ruling today, in the case of Misenga Jones v GECOM et al, the Court has side-stepped the issue of fraudulent ballots in the tabulated votes at the Recount. We will continue to insist that Fraudulent Recount Votes cannot determine the will of the Guyanese People; that only valid votes can produce such a result,” Harmon said in a brief statement on Monday evening. According to him, the Coalition’s lawyers will engage at the next level of the Court System to ensure the country’s Constitution is respected and adhered to by all. Notably, Harmon was not a party in the case brought by Jones. “We remain steadfast in making our case for valid votes only,” he posited.