The decision by Guyana’s highest appeal court – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – to invalidate the recount of the March 2 elections has been hailed by political scientist Peter Wickham.
The CCJ on Wednesday dismissed the report by Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield which showed that the governing coalition of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) won the general and regional poll.
But Lowenfield invalidated over 115,000 votes based on a ruling of Guyana’s Court of Appeal to give the APNU+AFC a win with 171,825 votes, while the People’s Progressive Party+Civic (PPP+C) was given 166,343 votes.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the regional political consultant said he was impressed with the CCJ’s ruling which, according to him, clarified several issues.
Wickham said: “I like the ruling. I think that looking at it in a broader context I think the ruling has brought clarity not only to the Guyana situation but it has also brought clarity to issues of electoral procedure regarding how the validity of a vote is assessed quantitatively.
“I think that one of the most useful aspects of the judgment is the fact that the Justices spoke directly to this issue of validity because it was clear that the APNU+AFC group was presenting the question of validity and credibility in a way that would suggest this could only be defined by one person, which would be the Chief Elections Officer and I have some challenges with that, so that was one of the parts of the judgment that I appreciated.
“I think the other thing was the question of jurisdiction and court basically held that it did have jurisdiction to hear the matter, not the substantive matter of whether or not the decision was correct but certainly the matter of whether or not the Appeal Court had jurisdiction, and they have essentially set aside the assumption of jurisdiction which means that everything that flows from that is also set aside.
“That to me was also useful because I think I would have made it clear that what was essentially an amendment to the Guyana Constitution that was being facilitated by the Appeal Court could not go through because it was inconsistent with what was intended. Those to me were the two kernels of the legal reasoning that I found useful as a person who deals with elections.”
Wickham took issue with the manner in which President David Granger responded to the CCJ’s ruling.
On Wednesday evening Granger made it clear as he addressed party supporters that he would do everything in his power to ensure the rights of Guyanese are respected.
He said it appeared as if Granger was unsure about the CCJ’s position.
Wickham told Barbados TODAY: “When I listen to the response of President Granger it is equally clear that he is still not clear regarding the intention of the CCJ regarding the legal position and regarding the need to conclude this matter and therein lies the problem.
“The [election] commissioners on the APNU’s side have already indicated that they are not ready to attend the meeting today and that tells me that they are not clear in some way and they will probably try to obfuscate the process again. But I really don’t know what more the CCJ could have done to make the position clear.”
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