Guyana’s Opposition party wins appeal

Date: 
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - 12:38

Guyana’s Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has won its appeal seeking to resolve that country’s controversial outstanding presidential election result. 
Delivering a judgement in a virtual hearing a short while ago, Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President Adrian Saunders ruled that Guyana’s Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to hear a case in which they interpreted Article 177 of the country’s Constitution and determined that “more votes cast” meant “more valid votes are cast” in a presidential election. 
The Appeal Court’s decision, delivered almost two weeks ago, was followed by a report from Guyana’s Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield on the “valid and credible votes” in the March 2 election, which effectively struck out 25 percent of the votes cast and showed a victory for the ruling APNU/AFC coalition. 
In the judgement, the CCJ ruled that the Constitution only gave the Court of Appeal exclusive jurisdiction to interpret the Constitution to determine if a presidential candidate had the proper qualifications for the post. 
The court suggested that analysis over the validity of votes cast would have to be commenced through an election petition in Guyana’s High Court after the unadjusted results are declared. 
Based on its decision on the Appeal Court’s lack of jurisdiction to hear the case brought by Guyanese citizen Eslyn David, the CCJ rejected submissions that it (the CCJ) did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal as Guyana’s final appellate court. 
The decision in the case does not necessarily bring final resolution to Guyana’s election debacle as election petitions challenging the validity of the election can still be brought by citizens or political parties once the election result is declared by Guyana’s Election Commission (GECOM). Such a petition may be appealed in the Court of Appeal and then at the CCJ. 

Reporter: Derek Achong