Declaration of elections results must be based on national recount – Norway

The Kingdom of Norway has now joined mounting calls for the figures emanating from the national recount to be used as the basis for the declaration of the winner of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
In a post on Thursday, Norway’s Ambassador to Guyana, Nils Martin Gunneng urged that the declaration of the elections results be based on the Caricom-certified recount.
“Norway joins the call for a fair and transparent conclusion of the Guyana Elections. The declaration of the election result must be based on the national recount, as witnessed by the Caricom observer mission,” the Norwegian Ambassador tweeted as he reposted a joint Statement from the ABCE diplomats in Guyana as well as shared the link of a video statement from Caricom Chair, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley – both made on Wednesday.
The 34-day national recount exercise showed a victory for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) by over 15,000 votes over its main political rival, the caretaker A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition.
The recount process was scrutinised by a high-level Caricom team, which in its report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) last week said that “nothing we witnessed, warrants a challenge to the inescapable conclusion that the recount results are acceptable and should constitute the basis of the declaration of results of the March 2, 2020 elections”.
Despite this, however, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on Tuesday submitted his final elections report to the Commission in which he invalidated more than 115,000 votes. Lowenfield’s new figures, which he says are “valid and credible votes”, have invalidated nearly 25 per cent of the votes cast at the March polls.
Since then, pressure has been mounting for the will of the Guyanese people expressed at the March 2 polls to be respected and for the results from the national recount, which were certified, to form the basis for the declaration of the election results.
The Caricom Chair had questioned “on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate one vote, far less 115,000 votes?”
Meanwhile, the Heads of the ABCE diplomatic missions in Guyana – United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union (EU) – stressed that “every vote cast by every voter” must be reflected in the declaration of the final elections results.
Even acting Assistant Secretary for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael Kozak, also tweeted on Wednesday evening that Guyanese spoke clearly at the March 2 polls.
“Guyana’s electorate spoke clearly & respected international observers @OAS_official & @CARICOMorg have certified the recount results as credible. We join them in calling for a conclusion to the electoral process in #Guyana & the announcement of a winner,” Kozak said.
Moreover, the Commonwealth Secretariat had also on Wednesday condemned the move by Lowenfield and warned of the consequences that this could bring to Guyana’s reputation as a democratic nation.
“We call on all responsible parties to consider the consequences to Guyana’s reputation as a democratic country if such an approach was allowed to stand,” the Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland posited in her missive on Wednesday.
Last week after GECOM had decided to go ahead with the declaration of the elections based on the recount results, the APNU/AFC, through its supporter Eslyn David, approached the Court of Appeal.
Now, the Appeal Court’s ruling that “more votes cast” means “more valid votes cast” is being challenged at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) by the PPP/C which has contended that the Court’s pronouncements have “plunged the law in total confusion and it is now no longer clear how an election of members of the National Assembly is to be challenged and how the election of the President can be challenged.”