It is crystal clear that the Court of Appeal has final jurisdiction in this matter
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Dear Editor
“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doing doesn’t become right and evil doesn’t become good just because it is accepted by a majority,” Booker T Washington.

THE most recent interview with the former attorney general Mr. Anil Nandlall with Travis Chase, where he did not appear to be intoxicated and sleepy as was the case with the CCJ’s live Zoom meeting, blatantly attempted to hoodwink and bamboozle the viewership whom he apparently believes are not of his ilk.
He posited that, ” the law can only mean valid votes; the law can never contemplate a government being elected, or a President being elected by the utilisation of invalid votes.
“So if the law says a party that wins the most votes at an election shall form the next government, obviously my brother it can’t mean more invalid votes, it must only mean more valid votes.”
His utterances in this regard were to give the impression that the final tabulation of the national recount with showed the PPP/C with the majority of votes is a reflection of only valid votes.
This was absolutely not the case here, when the tabulation process was stopped because the votes (11600- plus votes) in the 47 boxes that were discovered with no statutory documents to give legitimacy and validity to the ballots being tabulated in the final count, was a matter of concern for the coalition.
The commission, despite the coalition’s objections, made a decision to incorporate those said invalid votes into the tabulation to complete the process, along with other questionable ballots.

It was upon the written instructions by the Chairman of GECOM to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), the coalition not giving any explanation to its concerns to the questionable tabulation of those ballots, went to the correct court, the Court of Appeal, for an “interpretation” of what the constitution meant, when it said “more votes.”

In interpreting the constitution, the court agreed with the position articulated by the former attorney general that the framers of the constitution meant more valid votes as is captured in article 96 of the Representation of the People Act.

The CEO having knowledge of the questionable tabulation and acting only in accordance with the constitution primarily, which explicitly states more valid votes as did the interpretation offered by the majority of judges on the Appeal Court, prepared his report accordingly.

The matter is now before the CCJ, that clearly has no jurisdiction in this matter for a determination according to Article 177 (4) which grants the Court of Appeal exclusive jurisdiction to interpret the constitution with respect to the determination of the validity of the election of a President, and indicates that such decision is final.

Mr Editor, It is now more clear that ever that Guyana’s elections have the attention of those with a personal and a collective interest, as well for many with curious interest in and out of the Region, to see how this process with known electoral fraud, that can only be corrected with the use of only valid votes, will play out.

It is quite obvious too that those said judges on the CCJ were as much engaged in the issues concerning our elections, long before and after the matter was put before them.
The decision to be made by those judges in this matter can be very simple as it should be, given the expressed constitutional provisions of our sovereign and independent constitution, which give exclusive jurisdiction on matters pertaining to the election of a President, to be dealt with by the country’s indigenous court, the Court of Appeal and its decision is final.

Mr Editor, in Article XXV (5) of the agreement establishing the CCJ states: “Nothing in this Article shall apply to matters in relation to which the decision of the Court of Appeal of a Contracting Party is, at the time of the entry into force of the Agreement pursuant to the Constitution or any other law of that Party, declared to be final.” It is crystal clear and pellucid as daylight, that the Court of Appeal has the final jurisdiction in this matter which is before the CCJ.

On the other hand Mr. Editor, it can be “ground-breaking” if  the CCJ breached its own act by over- reaching its jurisdiction to squat in areas of explicit and very  translucent constitutional provisions of a sovereign state, that they are prohibited from venturing.
It did seem, that the very nature of questions posed by several of the judges, gave the impression that they were fishing in areas that they should not have concerned themselves with, when the matter before them was very  specific and simple.

Their exercise in asking questions, some of which were in my respectful view unintelligent hypothetical questions, which provided a vague indication that they were looking for a loophole to force themselves in, to say they do have jurisdiction.

Mr Editor, permit me to  reiterate, Guyana’s constitution and the CCJ Act of 2004, enshrined in law, makes it clear that the Guyana Court of Appeal is the final court in matters to the “validity of the election of a President” and ” Shall have exclusive jurisdiction” which “shall be final.”

Mr Editor, if the CCJ intrudes and trespasses on our sovereignty of jurisdiction, it will have a diabolical consequence, not only for the respect and reputation of all those judges in this case, but on the very foundation of the Institution they represent.

The Caribbean Court of Justice as it stands, enjoys the minute confidence of only four out of the 15 member states of CARICOM. What is very interesting to note, is that the country that houses this court, Trinidad and Tobago, does not repose the confidence in it being its final court, even though it also has several of its citizens as judges.

One is bound to ask why? Is it the fear of political interference from fellow sister states and those outside of the Region with the aim to influence regime change, outside the realm of the sovereignty of the state? Or is it because of the closeness of those in the Region, where everyone knows someone who can or may exert influence on those said decision-makers?
All sister states, including those involved, are watching and waiting to see what the court will do.

This case on trial is not only about Guyana, its people, its constitution and its sovereignty; it’s about the other sister states in CARICOM having confidence in the CCJ as their final court. It is about  the respect of the court on sovereignty of states indigenous court’s decisions, where finality is constitutionally made and is said to be final. It’s about restoring the mistrust imposed on CARICOM from statements of interference in matters of sovereign sister states by both the outgoing and incoming Chairs of CARICOM, whose country man is the President of the CCJ. What is also on trial is the judges’ respect, character, integrity and the potential longevity of the CCJ to stand out as a court that is truly independent and free from the shackles of the lingering spirit of imperialist and colonial influence of former colonisers and big corporations with deep pockets and influence. I am confident that this court will rise to the occasion and do what is right and just ; however, against the aforementioned, I am also equally aware that our former colonisers and their subjects are actively working on schemes to keep us in chains, along with the proponents who took this case to the CCJ, knowing fully of the finality of the ruling of the Court of Appeal. Guyana is not a colony of CARICOM, nor is it a subject of any imperialist/ capitalist interest. Guyana is for Guyanese and it is not for sale.

PNCR Region #10 Chairman
Jermaine Figueira

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