Ramkalawan asks Court to order a third ballot
A first petition contesting the election results was filed yesterday with Wavel Ramkalawan asking the Constitutional Court to declare null and void the results of the Presidential runoff and the subsequent “election” of James Michel. The Seychelles National Party (SNP) alleges that the Electoral Commission wrongly calculated the results and that there was no winner in the second round.
The Presidential candidate of the Seychelles National Party (SNP), Wavel amkalawan yesterday filed a first petition under Article 130 of the Constitution, contesting the results of the Presidential runoff held on 16, 17 and 18 December.
The petition filed by lawyer Bernard Georges yesterday morning, averred that the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Hendrick Gappy was wrong to award a certificate of election to James Michel, declaring him the winner of the 2015 Presidential election, since no candidate won more than 50% of the votes in the runoff.
The SNP is therefore asking the Court to order the Electoral Commission to hold “further ballot/s until such time as a single candidate receives more than 50% of the votes in the election”.
This argument is based on the premise that the announcement of the percentage of votes allocated to contender James Michel was incorrect; therefore the certificate of election issued to Mr Michel “was erroneous, improper and illegal”.
The petition explains that based on the calculation of votes cast, Mr Michel received 49.319% and not 50.15% as stated by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Hendrick Gappy when he proclaimed the results.
The petition says that the total votes cast were 63,893 and that the total votes cast in favour (valid votes) were 62,831 while 1062 votes were rejected. James Michel won 31,512 votes while Wavel Ramkalawan was said to have won 31,319 votes.
“The Chairman of the Electoral Commission immediately thereafter publicly announced that the petitioner had received 4.85% of the votes and the second respondent (James Michel) has scored 50.15% of the total votes cast”, paragraph 14 of the petition averred.
Following this, the petition says, Mr Gappy “acting purportedly under paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 of the Constitution, presented the second respondent with a certificate of election, declaring that the second respondent was duly elected to the office of President”.
But Mr Ramkalawan avers that “the said announcement was incorrect and the certificate was erroneous, improper and illegal”
Speaking to TODAY, Mr Ramkalawan’s lawyer, Bernard Georges said that “we want the Constitutional Court to interpret clearly what the Constitution says regarding the calculation of percentage of votes in the runoff of the Presidential election”.
The issue is that the Constitution makes mention of “votes” and the Elections Act makes mention of “votes cast” and is explained further in the petition.
“Based on a calculation of the votes cast - whether rejected or not - and the figures compiled by the first respondent (the Electoral Commission) itself, (...) the second respondent (James Michel) has in fact only received 49.319% of the votes cast in the second ballot”.
Mr Georges told TODAY that “we are alleging that if the percentage had been calculated correctly, none of the two candidates would have received the amount necessary to be elected President, in this case 50% plus one, therefore the election should be declared null and void”.
The petition is asking the Court to declare that the Constitution has been contravened, to declare that James Michel has only received 49.319% of the votes, to declare null and void the certificate of election issued to James Michel by Hendrick Gappy and to order the Electoral Commission to hold further ballots until a candidate obtains more than 50% of the votes cast.
The petition which will be heard by the Constitutional Court has to be served on three respondents, namely the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, James Michel and the Attorney General.
Lawyer Bernard Georges explained the choice of respondents by saying that it was “Mr Gappy who made the mistake in the calculation”. James Michel is also a respondent as “he stands to be affected by the ruling”.
Mr Georges said he expects the court to serve the petition on the three parties today at the latest. “Naturally I do not expect them to accept the petition and they will surely prepare their defense to counter our claim”.
The timing of the case is at this point uncertain as Mr Georges explains that under the law, the respondents would need to be given time to prepare their defense. He said that it will only be then that a date will be fixed for the hearing and a panel of judges chosen to hear the petition.
“We have been informed by the Court that the case will be given due consideration and we expect it to be given priority although we cannot confirm at this point when the hearing will start”, said Mr Georges.
To note that all courts are presently in recess and will resume during the second week of January.
Mr Georges also confirmed that a second petition will be filed next week requesting that the results of the Presidential runoff be declared null and void, based on irregularities recorded on polling day. “The Election petition will have two components; firstly it will outline all the irregularities which took place and secondly it will call for a recount of the votes”, he said.
Mr Georges added that the legal team was still gathering evidence for the second petition and will be ready to file it on Monday 4 January. Both petitions will be heard by the Constitutional Court. Meanwhile, Wavel Ramkalawan has called on all opposition supporters to “remain calm and let justice take its course”.
Mr Ramkalawan said that the Union for Change movement will be keeping supporters updated and called on them to be ready for the hearing once the case starts “as it is not just us leaders who should be participating and following the case, but all the 31,319 persons who voted for the opposition in the runoff ”.
The result of the Presidential runoff was declared in the early hours of December 19, giving SNP, 49.85% of the total votes cast and 50.15% to Parti Lepep. Mr Gappy has so far refused to comment on the allegations of error in the calculation of votes.
Source: Today.sc 12-29-15