Attorneys calling for the verification process of votes in Region Four Guyana crossed a significant legal hurdle on Sunday as Chief Justice of Guyana Roxanne George-Wiltshire ruled that the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
This decision means that Guyana still has to wait to find out who their new President will be.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has to await the outcome of the matter before it could move ahead with any final declaration of Monday’s election results.
George-Wiltshire has set Tuesday at 2 p.m. for the matter to be heard.
The court hearing to decide whether or not the High Court had the power to stop GECOM from declaring the results of Monday’s elections began at 1.30 pm yesterday at Courtroom One of the Guyana High Court yesterday.
Before George-Wiltshire began her ruling she admonished both parties to respect the court’s decision.
“Respect the court and the court’s decision even if you do not like it,” George-Wiltshire stated to the packed courtroom.
She said respect for the court is “paramount”.
After recapping the arguments made by both sides, George-Wilshire ruled that the court was the jurisdiction to hear the injunction.
Senior Counsel Neil Boston who represented the respondents in the matter argued on Saturday that an election petition and not an injunction was the way to address the problems being raised.
However, George-Wiltshire said, “a court cannot shirk its supervisory duty”.
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes who lead the team that filed the injunction told the court he had some concerns about an email sent by Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield on Saturday night to GECOM commissioners stating that he had prepared the final report for submission to the commission.
In his email, Lowenfield called on GECOM chairperson Claudette Singh to call for a meeting of the commission at her earliest convenience.
Mendes questioned why Lowenfield, who is named in the injunction, was absent from the court during yesterday’s hearing.
He said the email sent after Saturday’s court matter was a “flouting of the order” by the court while the proceedings were still ongoing.
Mendes hinted at the possibility of contempt of court proceedings being taken against Lowenfield.
Mendes said he was concerned by Lowenfield’s actions.
In response, Boston read a release from the Public Relations Officer of GECOM Yolanda Ward.
“The recent action of the Chief Election Officer indicating to the chairperson and the commissioners that his report in relation to the final declaration was completed was not intended to disregard the court proceedings but rather apprising the chairperson of the completion of the document and that she may convene a meeting at her convenience,” Boston said.
Boston said GECOM will abide by all legal and procedural requirements to conclude its work.
George-Wiltshire gave Boston until 10 am Tuesday to file his response to the injunction.
Speaking to the media following the ruling Boston said he was “disappointed” by George-Wiltshire’s decision and he did not agree with it.
Boston said he still believes that an election petition is the way this situation should have been handled.
“We understand the urgency of this matter we want it to be heard and determined so Tuesday we are coming back,” the former attorney general of Guyana Mohabir Anil Nandlall a representative of the legal team that filed the injunction stated yesterday.
Supporters of the ruling Partnership For National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that lined the street outside the High Court yesterday called for David Granger to again be sworn in as the country’s President.
Boston told the crowd not to lose hope when he addressed them on the way to his vehicle.
Granger yesterday met with the former prime minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding and his team from the Organisation of American States (OAS) Observer Mission in Guyana at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Granger told the OAS team that GECOM is an “independent and constitutional body” and assured them that he awaiting the ruling of the court on the matter and ultimately the declaration by the elections commission.
Granger said it would be “improper and unlawful” for him to interfere in the work of GECOM.
“It would be unlawful. I have no role to play. The matter is before the Chief Justice and I will await the ruling of the Chief Justice,” Granger stated.
Granger also condemned the levels of violence being meted out because of protest action.
The extent of injuries sustained by individuals as a result of the ongoing violent protest action taking place across Guyana has now come to the fore.
Police Sergeant Punit Ibaran who was attacked by armed protestors on Friday night had both arms broken, a chop wound to the back of his head, and lacerations about his body.
Ibaran was among three police officers who were attacked by an angry mob in the village of Cotton Tree.
Sewdat Hansraj, 18, who is alleged to have attacked Ibaran was shot dead by police during the incident.
The other two police officers injured during the incident were constables Ron Grant and Jafta Fraser.
Grant and Fraser were yesterday discharged from the New Amsterdam Hospital.
Ibaran remains hospitalised.
Three other police officers, including an Assistant Superintendent, were also injured in another protest action in the village of Tain.
Woman police constable Tussie Wallerson suffered a fractured foot while woman police constable Shomeika Wickham received other injuries after being stoned by protestors.
The Guyana Police Force yesterday said the officers will be provided with the necessary counselling required.
Six school children who were injured after the bus carrying them to classes was stoned by protestors at the Bush Lot Village, Mahaica-Berbice area have all been discharged from hospital.
The injured children have been identified as Christopher Srikishun, Orissa Noble, Roen Bobb, Beyonce Knoble and Jahia Phillander from the Fort Wellington Secondary School and Mariah Jacque from the Bush Lot Secondary School.
Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency Simona Broomes on behalf of President David Granger visited the home of the six injured children yesterday.
Before his meeting with the OAS team, Granger went to Christ Church’s Sunday Mass in commemoration of the second Sunday of Lent.