…GECOM Chair asked to bar Mingo, Meyers from process
After the Appellate Court cleared the way for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to go ahead with its recount of all ballots cast in the March 2 General and Regional Elections, calls have been pouring in for the process to be broadcast on live television.
The Private Sector Commission and Liberty and Justice Party are among the two latest voices in the call for a live broadcast. On Sunday, People’s Progressive Party Executive member, Anil Nandlall called for the measure to ensure the credibility of the process.
Leader of LJP, Lenox Shuman in a letter to the GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, recommended that the Commission adopt a policy to have the recount of ballots be broadcast.
“In recognition of the events that transpired at the RO’s Office for District Number Four from 3 March 2020 to 15 March 2020, the Liberty and Justice Party is hereby recommending that the Guyana Elections Commission swiftly adopts a policy that the: media must be present and provide live broadcast at/of the recount. This provides the absolute greatest degree of transparency that would instil public confidence in the process and the results of these elections,” Shuman said in his letter to the Chair.
This call comes against the backdrop of questionable results emanating from Electoral District Four (Demerara-Mahaica) which was overseen by Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.
“Madame Chair, I wish to point out that coupled with Article 162.1 (b) of the Constitution of Guyana, is Article 161 B. ‘It is hereby declared that the role of the political parties and their nominees in the conduct of elections by the Elections Commission shall be limited to their participation in determining policy, monitoring the electoral process and the conduct of elections, but does not include active management of the elections’,” Shuman said in support of his recommendation.
Following the relatively smooth voting process in nine of the 10 regions, the nation waited with bated breath on RO Mingo’s declaration. Mingo’s declaration was imperative to determining which of the two major political parties – the PPP/C or APNU/AFC, would take the presidency.
Strange things began happening as the tabulation got underway at the Returning Office at Ashmins building, at the corner of High and Hadfield Streets in Georgetown, with Mingo complaining of feeling unwell and being rushed to the hospital, his staff refusing to continue the tabulation for various reasons, a GECOM staff being whisked away by Police after surreptitiously going into a room with a flash drive and computer and eventually, the count being suspended.
Mingo then returned with a piece of paper and declared results over the objections of all the party agents present. That declaration was subsequently declared unlawful by the High Court, but Mingo would return to make another controversial declaration, this time at GECOM’s office in Kingston.
Prior to his second declaration, agents at the GECOM office complained of being impeded from observing the counting process. Mingo’s refusal to show agents the original Statements of Poll (SoPs) is reported to have hampered the transparency of the process.
A unified international community has already warned Guyana that it could be isolated and even sanctioned if a President is sworn in on the flawed results, resulting in an uneasy standoff between the international community and the Government.
Private Sector Commission
Joining the call was the Private Sector Commission (PSC) who are accredited observers of the elections process. The body called on GECOM to begin immediate preparations for the recount.
“The PSC considers that the reality of the restrictions placed on international travel by the COVID-19 virus pandemic demands that arrangements are made for the recount proceedings to be broadcast live on radio and television and live-streamed for international reception by those observer teams whom are unable to be physically present at GECOM for the recount proceedings,” the Private Sector posited.
The PSC said it believes that the recount, at this time, should only take place in District Four since that is the contended area. It noted that the process in the other Districts was not marred nor did they receive questions from any of the accredited observers and in post-COVID-19 Guyana, with travel restrictions, a total recount would be a colossal waste.
“The PSC, therefore, appeals directly to the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organisation of American States, the European Union, the Carter Center and the Caribbean Community to return to Guyana for the commencement of the recount by GECOM… Further, the restrictions to travel now imposed as a result of the COVID-19 virus would make the implementation of a countrywide recount of the ballots an almost insurmountable exercise which, as we have pointed out, is entirely frivolous and unnecessary.
“The PSC is satisfied, from its own observations, that the involvement of the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo and the Deputy Returning Officer, Roxanne Myers, in the tabulation and verification process in District Four, materially contributed to the fraudulent tabulation and verification of the process and, it is, therefore, obvious that these Officers must not be involved in the process of the recount,” the PSC said in a statement.