Describing one of the election petition cases as a full-blown trial, Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George intends to hear the two cases together despite concerns by the Attorneys for the two petitioners.
Attorneys Mayo Robertson and Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde who are representing the petitioners in the two cases told the Chief Justice that while the two cases may arrive at the same destination in terms of the relief being sought, they would prefer for the two petitions to be heard separately so that with all the lawyers involved, there is no confusion.
The Chief Justice while noting the concerns, gave the assurance that there will not be any confusion coming from her side.
During the case management conference this afternoon, the Chief Justice laid out clear rules for the commencement of the two petitions.
Applications in the two cases are to be filed within the next two weeks with submissions and responses coming just after.
The Attorneys for Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo who is a respondent in the matter, have already indicated to the Court that they intend to file an application that brings into question whether all of the rules and procedures were followed in the serving of the petition on their client.
One of the petition cases has mainly one issue and that is whether the recount order that allowed for the recount and the eventual declaration is valid. The other case digs deeper into the reports that came out of the recount, the claims of irregularities and fraudulent voting.
It is the second case that the Chief Justice said is expected to be a full blown trial as witnesses will be called and will have to face questioning and cross-examination.
Attorney Mayo Robertson who is representing the petitioner in that second case said he could not at this time provide the Court with the number of witnesses that will be called since the Attorneys are currently involved in the fine-tuning of the statements from those witnesses and whether all of the statements will be presented.
The Guyana Elections Commission and its Chief Election Officer have not secured Counsel as yet in the petition cases. GECOM Commissioner and Attorney Sase Gunraj told the Court that there will be movement in that area soon.
The Chief Election Officer is currently before the Magistrates’ Court on multiple charges related to allegations of electoral fraud in connection with the same elections.
Most of the parties that contested the elections and have been named as respondents in the petitions have entered appearances to participate in the proceedings. At least three parties had no representatives.
The Chief Justice warned the large battery of lawyers taking part in the petitions that they should not repeat and copy the same information that might be presented in the cases as they present their arguments and responses.
The petitioners are expected to file all of their submissions by the 18th December with responses expected on or before the 5th January.
The Petitioners want the Court to determine the legality of the 2020 elections and the results that led to the declaration and the allocation of seats in the National Assembly.
The APNU+AFC Coalition has made it clear that it does not accept the validity of the (election) report which was presented and which led to the final results. The leader of the coalition is a respondent in the petitions filed by supporters of the party.
The coalition has compiled a dossier of reported anomalies and irregularities that were uncovered during the elections and it believes the evidence points to the declaration which was made being invalid and incorrect.
The Attorneys in the matter have explained that the evidence that has been presented in the petitions covers many of the issues and concerns that came to light during the national recount of votes, including ballot boxes with no statutory documents and votes being cast for persons who were not in the country and persons who are dead.