CARICOM Urges Stakeholders in Guyana to Respect CCJ Ruling

Ralph Gonsalves

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has called on all stakeholders in Guyana to “respect’ the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that earlier this week unanimously upheld a motion filed by two senior members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) challenging a ruling of the Court of Appeal.

The five-member panel headed by its President, Justice Adrian Saunders said that the Court of Appeal in Georgetown had no jurisdiction to hear the matter that had been filed by the private citizen Eslyn David, following the disputed March 2 regional and general election.

CARICOM chairman and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, said that the 15-member regional integration grouping “welcomes the progress towards the finalisation of the electoral process in Guyana.

“The Community calls on all stakeholders to respect the ruling of the CCJ, Guyana’s final court of appeal,” he said.

Gonsalves said “indeed, the CCJ in the summary judgement aptly stated: “It has been four months since the elections were held and the country has been without a Parliament for well over a year. No one in Guyana would regard this to be a satisfactory state of affairs. We express the fervent hope that there would quickly be a peaceable restoration of normalcy.”

“Accordingly, the Court’s ruling should lead to a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of the results of the General and Regional Elections held on 2 March 2020, without further delay.”

Gonsalves said that “CARICOM commends the continuing patience and calm of the people of Guyana and calls on all stakeholders to respect the rule of law”.

The CCJ, the country’s highest court, last week heard the appeal filed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali, the PPP/C presidential candidate seeking several reliefs, including an interpretation of the words ‘more votes are cast’ in Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution of Guyana.

The Court of Appeal in its majority 2-1 decision late last month ordered that the words are to be interpreted as meaning ‘more valid votes are cast’. The Court also ordered the decision be stayed for three days. The applicants, who were added as respondents before the Court of Appeal, claim that the decision was wrong for many reasons, including that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to hear and determine the Notice of Motion.

David had mounted her challenge before the appellate court pursuant to Article 177 (4) of the Constitution, which states “the Court of Appeal shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President in so far as the question depends upon the qualification of any person for election or the interpretation of this Constitution….”

In the ruling Justice Saunders said that the nature of David’s concerns and the issues she placed before the Court of Appeal “that the questions raised by her did not depend on the qualification of any person for election or on the interpretation of the Constitution”.

CMC

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