The Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, retired Judge Claudette Singh, through her Attorney Kim Kyte, has asked the Court of Appeal to reject the case that seeks to block the declaration of results and questions the validity and credibility of the elections.
In the written submission in response to the Court action, the GECOM Chair contends that any attempt to question the credibility and validity of the elections must be through an election petition.
“The word ‘election’ within the meaning of Article 232(1) of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Laws of Guyana is used and interpreted to mean the whole process of an election which commences with the issue of a proclamation of the election up to the issue of the result of that election”, Attorney Kim Kyte wrote in her submission on behalf of Justice Singh.
She contends that such a challenge cannot be entertained at this time since it would be premature, adding that any challenge to the validity of an election and any dispute or claim of any irregularities or illegalities in relation to an election can only lawfully form the basis of an election petition after the result of the election has been made known.
The GECOM Chair also stated that the Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.
In a statement earlier this week, the GECOM Chair also indicated that the matters that were being raised about discrepancies and irregularities in the elections, while serious, should be part of an election petition since GECOM has no power to investigate the claims on its own.
But the Sophia resident who has taken the case before the Court is asking the Court to determine whether GECOM followed its own Order for the Recount, which spoke about the recount being used to establish credibility.
Through her Attorney, the applicant has raised the issue of valid votes and whether credibility ought to be established through votes that are not valid.
But the GECOM Chairperson in response in questions how exactly that issue could be dealt with and addressed by the Court of Appeal and the orders being sought.
“If GECOM is to embark on this credibility exercise what basis should be used to determine the issues of validity and credibility? The letters from one party? The opinion of the CEO? Can GECOM just use the CEO’s opinion without giving interested parties an opportunity to be heard? Is GECOM to hold court and take evidence? The Applicant is asking GECOM to embark on a trial”, the Attorney for the GECOM Chair wrote.
She stated that the Court should not be asked to act in vain since even if the Court grants the orders sought, the next step would be unclear.
“Can this court direct GECOM what to decide? Can this court order GECOM to hold a fresh election? Are these orders even sought? The short answer is no since this is not an election court”, Kyte made clear in her submission.
She maintains that only a competent Court with jurisdiction can listen to the allegations and determine what weight they have, “not GECOM and certainly not the Chief Election Officer”.
In requesting the rejection of the notice of motion, the GECOM Chair in the submission said the Commission should be permitted to execute its constitutional role and functions to bring finality to the 2020 Elections.
Justice Claudette Singh has requested the Chief Elections Officer to submit his final report for the elections based on the votes from the recount.
The Court matter is slated to be heard this morning at 11am.