On Monday, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan rejected an application for a stay of criminal proceedings against those charged with electoral fraud, including several opposition members, until they could ask the High Court to determine if there had been a breach of fundamental rights provisions. This was disclosed by prosecutor Darshan Ramdhani. The defendants, which include Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) clerks Denise Babb-Cummings and Michelle Miller, GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February, its Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan, and opposition members Volda Lawrence and Carol Smith-Joseph, were charged in 2020 for attempting to rig the March 2020 elections in favor of the APNU/AFC government. They are facing conspiracy charges to commit fraud and misconduct in public office.
Last year, lawyer Nigel Hughes, representing the defendants, had asked the Chief Magistrate to stay the charges and send the matters to the High Court to determine whether the fundamental rights provisions had been breached, citing Article 153 (3) of the Constitution of Guyana. However, the Chief Magistrate, in her ruling on Monday, refused Hughes’ application, finding that there was no contravention of Article 144 (1) of the Constitution. She accepted the prosecution’s argument that the charges were complex and that both the court and prosecution were proceeding in a reasonable manner.
—more from Tiana Cole in this report.