GECOM finally votes to move ahead with countrywide recount
GECOM, APNU/AFC destruction of democracy: Day 33
…logistics meeting cancelled after OHS Chairman orders 2-day sanitisation of office
The Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission on Friday voted for the entity to move ahead with a countrywide recount of the March 2 ballots, in keeping with her public commitment and undertaking to the acting Chief Justice, Roxane George.
After one month of delays, the Commission decided on Friday that the recount will be facilitated in numerical order, starting with Region One (Barima-Waini) and then on to the other nine districts.
GECOM in a statement revealed that the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield was asked to provide a framework for the operationalisation of the recount.
However, the Commission said the CEO “requested guidance from the Commission on a number of legal and procedural issues in relation to the recount and once clarified, he will proceed to operationalise the plan.”
The Chair in voting with the three Opposition-nominated Commissioners for the recount stated that this decision is against the backdrop of Article 162 (1) (b) of the Constitution, which mandates the Commission to “take such action as appear to it necessary or expedient to ensure impartiality, fairness and compliance with the provisions of the Constitution.”
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj indicated that modalities surrounding the process are yet to be “ironed out.” This includes re-engaging the elections observers to return.
“Even though I believed all Commissioners seemed to be in favour of a recount, we were moving one step forward, one step backward in relation to the process. The Chairman finally ruled that this is what we are going to do and this is the decision and we have to take steps to operationalise that now,” Gunraj pointed out.
“We are trying to work out the modalities…There were some issues raised by the Chief Elections Officer that he would like to be resolved before we put plans in place to do so. These issues include re-engaging the observers, role of the Commission in the process so we are trying to do that,” he added.
He expressed that a timeline to get these issues sorted was not rolled out, but it should be done expeditiously.
“There’s no engagements in terms of timeline but we are trying to work that out, bearing in mind the anxiety of the nation and bearing in mind that a month has elapsed already since this process is ongoing.”
Gunraj went on to say that this process will determine the final results to be declared by the Secretariat.
“The method of the declaration is what has to be decided on but obviously, the results of the recount shall be the results of the election…The whole point is to establish the results of the elections because of the flawed process that we currently have on our hands,” the Commissioner asserted.
The logistics meeting was scheduled to occur at 14:00h on Friday following the decision to recount. However, a memo was prepared and sent to all staff of GECOM including the Commissioners by the Occupational Health and Safety Chairman stating that the entire building had to be sanitised in light of COVID-19. This process, according to the memo, will conclude on Sunday.
After the declaration of unverified results from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), an agreement was brokered by President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to have a Caribbean Community (Caricom) supervised recount.
A five-member independent high-level team was deployed to Guyana on March 15. Two days later, the regional team was forced to withdraw its services after an A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) candidate, Ulita Moore, had obtained an injunction from the High Court, blocking GECOM from commencing the recounting process.
On Tuesday acting Chief Justice Roxane George, who presided in the Full Court along with Justice Nareshwar Harnanan, ruled that the Court has no jurisdiction to hear the application filed by Moore.
The Full Court took into account the fact that the GECOM Chair had given a public undertaking that the votes would be recounted to ensure that the results of the polls were credible and accepted by the various stakeholders.