GECOM to conclude deliberations on CEO, Caricom reports today
…as per gazetted order No 60 of 2020
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Monday adjourned its meeting and decided to meet again today to conclude discussions on two critical reports ahead of the highly-anticipated declaration of the 2020 General and Regional Elections.
According to gazetted order no 60 of 2020 a declaration is to be made today.
At the conclusion of the meeting on Monday, GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj and Vincent Alexander spoke to the media. Gunraj revealed that discussions were still in their early stages and were scheduled to continue today.
“Unfortunately, our discussions are not complete. We have adjourned to continue those discussions,” he said, adding that the reports from both Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) would be discussed.
Meanwhile, Alexander was asked point blank whether GECOM had the legal authority to pronounce on the credibility of an election. He admitted that to the best of his knowledge, settling the question of the credibility of the elections would eventually be a matter for the courts.
“There are different views on the matter. The courts will have to pronounce eventually, I think,” Alexander explained. The Constitution of Guyana, in fact, makes it clear that the High Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to determine the credibility of an election.
Article 163 (b) of the Constitution states “subject to the provisions of this article, the High Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any question whether (i) either generally or in any particular place, an election has been lawfully conducted or the result thereof has been or may have been, affected by any unlawful act or omission.”
Alexander also explained that among the things discussed were the observation reports from the recount. These observation reports were summarised by Lowenfield in the report he presented to the Commission.
However, in his report, the CEO went outside of his ambit and sided with the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) when he said the March 2 General and Regional Elections lacked credibility and fairness owing to the unsubstantiated allegations of dead and migrated persons voting.
Neither Lowenfield nor the APNU/AFC produced a shred of definitive evidence to support those allegations.
It was only a few days ago that an APNU/AFC supporter’s claim that someone was dead but had voted had to be debunked by the woman’s relatives. The death certificate the supporter produced was also denounced as fake.
This follows previous instances during the recently-concluded recount, where persons had to come forward and deny claims from APNU/AFC that they were migrant voters. These allegations formed the basis for the coalition arguing that the results of the elections were not credible.
APNU/AFC cast its net so far that party agents objected to a serial number that belonged to prominent Attorney-at-Law Devindra Kissoon, who was not only in the country on Election Day, but he also voted at the African Heritage Museum in Bel Air Park, Georgetown.
To compound the inaccuracy of the objection, the prominent lawyer was an accredited observer for the American Chamber of Commerce Guyana Chapter (AmCham). He was seen by numerous witnesses at several polling stations across the country on Election Day including at the Enmore Community Centre Ground.
In another instance, APNU/AFC objected to media operative Latoya Wills as they claimed she had migrated and was not around to vote. However, Wills had subsequently confirmed that she did not travel anywhere and was around to vote on March 2.
On the request of GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, Chief Immigration Officer Leslie James had provided a list of names of these alleged migrant voters who he had confirmed were out of the country.
In the wake of several denials, however, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) had defended the data it provided to GECOM on the basis of persons possibly travelling “illegally”, which the Force had said would not be recorded by the Electronic Border Management System.
The curtains on the national recount of ballots came down on Monday last. The data generated from the 2339 Statements of Recount (SoRs) shows that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won with a total of 233,336 votes.
This is 15,416 more votes than its nearest rival, the APNU/AFC, which received 217,920 total votes. When one calculates using the Hare formula, it means that PPP/C secured 33 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly and APNU/AFC secured 31.