Chief Justice Roxane George this morning dismissed the election petition case which was filed by two supporters of the Opposition APNU+AFC who were hoping for the results of the elections to be vitiated.
The petition challenged the constitutionality of Order 60 which was created by GECOM and paved the way for the recount of votes before a final declaration.
In her ruling, the Chief Justice explained that the Guyana Elections Commission, (GECOM) has the responsibility to independently supervise elections and can issue instructions and take actions as necessary when matters relating to the conduct of the elections arise.
She pointed out that Order 60 is not unconstitutional because it was created to resolve a dispute, further explaining that if there was no dispute in relation to the conduct of the elections, Order 60 would then be ultra vires, (Unconstitutional).
“Thus I have concluded that Order 60 is not ultra vires the constitution or section 22, a combination or article 162 (1) (b) and section 22 conferred the power on GECOM to issue this order, if GECOM considered it necessary or expedient to ensure impartiality fairness and compliance on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties on it behalf as regards elections process and the declarations of the results of the elections,” the Chief Justice said in her ruling.
It is the view of the Chief Justice that Order 60 as promulgated under Section 22 (1) can be construed as simply modifying the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA) to provide a mechanism that allows for the recount to be conducted by expanding the recount provisions in the Act. She said it simply sets out a procedure for the recount of ballots, a power that GECOM possesses under the provision of the RPA.
In her opinion, the Chief Justice said the Elections Commission did not amend any elections legislation with the issuing of the Order but merely supported existing legislations.
“So, in issuing order 60, GECOM did not purport to amend any legislation, if for whatever reason any person exercising powers or performing duties pursuant to Article 162 (1) (b) goes rogue and does not follow the requires provisions of the RPA and the directions of GECOM, it cannot be that GECOM must accept the results they provide and await the outcome of an elections petition,” The Justice said in her ruling.
Chief Justice George said the Elections Commission had an obligation to complete the elections process and had to address difficulties to complete the process satisfactorily.
“GECOM is meant to be and has to be in control of the process, until satisfactorily completed, this is the ultimate power that GECOM has pursuant to article 162,” The Chief Justice further stated.
The Chief Justice said GECOM did not breach the constitution, therefore she declared, “As such the petition is dismissed.”
The Chief Justice has also ordered that the Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount that were lodged at the Supreme Court remain there until all appeals in the cases are exhausted.
The dismissal of the petition came as supporters of the APNU+AFC were gathered outside the Courthouse, although the ruling was handed down virtually.
The supporters marched off in protest at the conclusion of the decision by the Chief Justice.
Two election petition cases were filed in the aftermath of the 2020 elections. The first one was thrown out by the Chief Justice over improper service.