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Appeal Court grants motion to hear APNU+AFC’s second election petition expeditiously

The Court of Appeal

The Guyana Court of Appeal on Monday granted a motion to expeditiously hear the APNU+AFC’s appeal challenging the dismissal of Election Petition 88 of 2020.

On April 26, 2021, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, dismissed the Coalition’s second election petition, which Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick filed.

The petition had sought to have the results of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections invalidated on the ground of serious non-compliance with the Constitution and electoral laws.

However, the Chief Justice dismissed the petition after she found that the petitioners failed to present evidence to support that the conduct of the elections contravened the Constitution and electoral laws.

Dissatisfied with Justice George’s ruling, in June 2021, Attorney-at-Law Roysdale Forde, SC, who is representing the APNU+AFC, filed an appeal.

However, in August, Forde filed a motion calling for his party’s appeal to be heard swiftly.

When the matter came up before the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and Justices Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory, it was noted that a motion was filed to strike out the opposition’s quest to have the appeal heard swiftly.

Forde told the Court that a visit to the Court of Appeal a few days ago revealed that the documents necessary to constitute a record of appeal are still in the High Court’s custody.

It is premised on this that Forde contended that his motion for a speedy hearing is a “result of the failure of the Honourable Chief Justice” to not only deliver a written decision but to ensure documents are properly prepared and sent to the Appeal Court.

“Your honour, we respectfully submit, we would have suffered up to now at this stage a substantial prejudice by the failure to have the full decision made a laid over before the Court,” Forde, who is also the Shadow Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, told the Court.

Meanwhile, Trinidadian Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who filed the motion to strike out, argued that Forde’s application should have been filed on May 31, 2021, with his notice of appeal.

He is of the view that if the application had been made, then the APNU+AFC’s appeal could have been heard by now.

“My learned friend is blaming everyone except the appellants themselves for the position we are in. They are blaming the learned Chief Justice for not delivering a written judgment when the transcript of the oral judgment, a very detailed judgment, has always been available.”

However, Justice Cummings-Edwards said that the Court is of the view that no applicant should be turned away from the seat of justice.

“The nature of this matter and, therefore, in the interest of justice, we will grant the application, as filed or sought by Mr. Forde,” Justice Cummings noted. In light of this, November 1 at 9:30h has been set for report in the case.

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