Caricom calls for declaration of elections results “without further delay”
ꟷ urges for CCJ ruling, rule of law to be respected
Caribbean Community (Caricom) Chairman, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves on Thursday called for the final declaration of the results from the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
This comes on the heels of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday invalidating Guyana’s Court of Appeal’s decision that “more votes cast” in the context of the Recount Order means “more valid votes cast”, saying the local court does not have jurisdiction to pronounce on the matter. The regional court also invalidated the fraudulent report submitted by embattled Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield last month in which he disenfranchised more than 115,000 voters.
This has paved the way for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to move ahead with the process of making a final declaration of the elections that were held over four months ago.
In a statement on Thursday, the Caricom Chairman welcomed this progress towards the finalisation of the protracted electoral process in Guyana.
“Accordingly, the Court’s ruling should lead to a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission of the results of the General and Regional Elections held on 2 March 2020, without further delay,” Dr Gonsalves stated.
The seven-member GECOM was scheduled to meet on Thursday. However, the meeting was postponed to today after the three Government-nominated Commissioners requested time to study the CCJ decision – a move that has been described by many stakeholders as a delaying tactic.
Nevertheless, Dr Gonsalves in his missive urged stakeholders in Guyana to ensure that both the CCJ ruling and the rule of law were respected.
“The Community calls on all stakeholders to respect the ruling of the CCJ, Guyana’s final court of appeal …. Caricom commends the continuing patience and calm of the people of Guyana and calls on all stakeholders to respect the rule of law,” the Caricom Chairman posited.
He further referenced the CCJ’s summary judgement, which aptly stated: “It has been four months since the elections were held and the country has been without a Parliament for well over a year. No one in Guyana would regard this to be a satisfactory state of affairs. We express the fervent hope that there would quickly be a peaceable restoration of normalcy.”
The Trinidad-based Court in its ruling, which was delivered by its President, Justice Adrian Saunders, further stated: “It is for GECOM to ensure that the CEO submits a report in accordance with his directives of 16th of June in order to proceed along the path directed by the laws of Guyana.”
This refers to the instructions by GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, who directed Lowenfield in a letter last month to submit his final elections report using the figures from the national recount.
The 33-day exercise confirmed that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the March 2 elections with 233,336 votes while the caretaker A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition obtained 217,920 votes – a difference of 15,416 votes.
The CEO was then directed in a letter dated June 16 by the GECOM Chair to submit his report using the recount figures.
However, before he could have presented his report, the Elsyn David matter was filed in the Appeal Court. But one day after that court’s ruling, which was stayed for three days, Lowenfield went ahead to submit his report in which he invalidated over 115,000 votes to give the APNU/AFC a win with 171,825 votes while the PPP/C was given 166,343 votes.
Now that the CCJ has invalidated that report, the CEO has once again been instructed by GECOM to present a new elections report using the results from the national recount. He is expected to submit this report by 14:00h today.