Full Court says has jurisdiction to hear appeal over election petition

The Full Court last Friday ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear the appeal filed by Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield which seeks to have the elections petition brought by opposition PPP/C MP Ganga Persaud, struck out.

Acting Chief Justice Roxane George SC and Justice Franklyn Holder heard submissions from both parties involved and on Friday, Justice George read the court’s ruling.

Lowenfield’s attorney Roysdale Forde who appeared in association with attorneys Stephen Lewis and Olayne Joseph told this newspaper that the ruling made was that the court had jurisdiction to entertain an appeal against the decision previously delivered by now retired Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang.

Justice Chang had overruled Lowenfield’s application which contended that Persaud’s election petition had no material facts and should be struck out.

Subsequently, an appeal was filed in the Full Court of the High Court.

According to Forde, the court stated that in the absence of any specific provision, his client had the right to appeal to the Full Court.

He informed that he has already filed an appeal and in light of the Full Court’s decision, the hearing of the appeal will now go ahead. No date has yet been set for that hearing.

Attorney Anil Nandlall on behalf of Persaud had made the argument that Lowenfield’s appeal was filed with the wrong court; contending that it should have been the Guyana Court of Appeal instead of the Full Court.

Lowenfield, in addition to absence of facts, contended in his appeal that Justice Chang erred in law when he failed to direct his mind to the application and apply the proper principles applicable to the striking out of the petition on grounds that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action and is frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the process of the court.

The High Court had been asked to rule on whether the pleadings, as revealed in the election petition, disclosed a cause of action. Justice Chang ruled that the court could not make such a determination since it might mean that he would in essence be determining the election petition itself.

Persaud had filed the petition calling on the High Court to declare the entire May 11, 2015 general elections process flawed and containing many procedural errors and so many instances of fraudulent and/or suspicious actions that “the results that have been derived from the process cannot be credibly deemed to represent accurately the will of the electorate.”

He had also asked the court to order a recount of all ballots cast in the elections.

The PPP/C had refused to accept that the APNU+AFC alliance won the 2015 elections and that coalition leader David Granger is the President.

The opposition party’s position since the elections is that it has been robbed of votes through a carefully planned rigging process on the part of the APNU+AFC coalition. Local and international observers have, however, declared that the polls were free and fair.

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