GECOM sets June 16 for final declaration of March 2 elections
…to refuse recount figures “would be a tragedy of gigantic proportions” – Nandlall
Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Friday agreed to extend the national elections recount exercise underway for an additional two weeks to complete the activity, after which the electoral body will declare a credible count of the March 2 polls within three days.
This does not mean, however, that the results of the recount exercise will automatically form the results of the election.
The positions were articulated on Friday at the end of day 24 of the originally scheduled 25-day exercise.
The changes have since been published in an
addendum to the formal Recount Order that was published in the Official Gazette on May 4.
According to the addendum, the GECOM Secretariat has been given up to June 13 to wrap up the recount and tabulation aspect of the recount at which point in time the Chief Elections Officer would submit a report to the Commission containing the consolidated recount information.
The order, at this time, gives the Commission three days, or by June 16, to deliberate and determine whether to have Lowenfield use the recount results to prepare the final report for the declaration of the results.
Addressing the fact that the order does not specifically outline the automatic use of the recount results while nullifying or discarding the results currently on GECOM’s record but held in abeyance, People’s Progressive Party/Civic tabulation agent, Anil Nandlall described the situation as unfortunate.
Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Nandlall told reporters, “on the face of it I would say to you that it is unhappily expressed, I will concede that much.”
The former Attorney General prefaced his lamentation, however, by pointing out that “GECOM is a public authority, it is a constitutional body and one expects that there is presumption of regularity.”
As such, Nandlall posited that since GECOM is in fact constituted with a Chairperson that has served as a former Appeals Court Judge along with six “reputable Commissioners will not want to make this nation a joke by conducting an exercise which produces a result and then refuses to disclose that result.”
According to Nandlall, “that would be a tragedy of gigantic proportions.”
Speaking to the specific provision in the Order, Nandlall told reporters “I myself have noted that language and my inquiry has revealed that it’s simply a transplant of the language that was in the previous order being transmitted down and now appears in this amended order.”
The former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister reminded that he has in the past expressed his misgivings over the provision in the order “but I believe that the Chairperson has publicly committed to the declaration of results, final results based upon the recount.”
Nandlall used the occasion to also draw reference to similar sentiments being observed by the Government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, who, Nandlall recalled, expressed the view that the recount results should be used for the final declaration.
Speaking with members of the media on Friday, Alexander told reporters “this is an opinion of mine, it is not the Commission’s position.”
He was at the time responding to a query on the fact that the order had not been specific in the automatic use of the results from the recount but for the Commission to deliberate on whether or not to use the results.
According to Alexander “my own opinion is that once we complete the recount, then the previous declarations will be overtaken by that”
He suggested, “therefore whatever we pronounce on after will be in relation to what comes out of the recount.”
PPP/C GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj, however, downplayed the wording of the GECOM order telling reporters encamped in the makeshift media centre outside of the ACCC venue, “for me it is no big deal.”
Gunraj reminded “…we are conducting a recount exercise with view of revealing the results of the March 2 [polls].”
He expressed the view that he was “happy that my colleague has conceded that it should be automatic”. The PPP/C Commissioner was adamant that “the results of the recount will be the results used for the declaration of the results, the official results of March 2, General and Regional Elections held in Guyana.”
He told reporters that a failure to sign off on the Certificate of Tabulation for each of the regions in the recount exercise would not render it invalid.