Irfaan Ali already “deemed” President of Guyana – Jagdeo
…outlined in Article 177 of Constitution, needs no “gloss”
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, has stated that with his party having obtained the highest number of votes from the March 2 elections, its Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, has already been “deemed” the President of Guyana.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Jagdeo cited Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution, and maintained that the law is clear as it relates to the declaration of the elections results.
“The Presidential Candidate on the list [of candidates of the party] that has the majority vote is deemed the President of Guyana, and the (Guyana Elections Commission) Chair shall declare him as President. So, Article 177 (2) (b) of our Constitution is quite clear. It has been established now that the PPP’s list has the most votes, and therefore, Irfaan Ali is already deemed the President of Guyana,” the PPP/C General Secretary noted.
Article 177 (2) (b) states: “…where there are two or more Presidential candidates, if more votes are cast in favour of the list in which a person is designated as Presidential candidate than in favour of any other list, that Presidential candidate shall be deemed to be elected President, and shall be so declared by the Chairman of the Elections Commission…”
What the Opposition Leader was emphasizing was that this article needs “no gloss” or explanation – as the CCJ had ruled on Art 106 (6) where the Cabinet and the President should resign after a No Confidence Motion.
Jagdeo added that the PPP/C is now awaiting that section of the Constitution that says that the Chair of GECOM “shall” officially declare Ali as president, adding that this is imperative given the state of the country, particularly the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are tons of issues that have to be addressed… That is why we need the declaration very early, so we can address these issues…,” he stressed.
The recently concluded National Recount has shown that Ali’s PPP/C secured a landslide victory with more than 15,000 votes ahead of the caretaker APNU/AFC Coalition. The publicly tabulated figures from the exercise show the PPP/C taking 33 of the 65 seats in the Legislative Assembly while APNU/AFC will take 31 seats. The remaining one seat is expected to be held by the Joinder Alliance comprising the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM).
According to the PPP/C General Secretary, with the law being clear in relation to the declaration of the elections results, any action outside of this would not be tolerated.
“As far as we’re concerned, all of the shenanigans that are going on now to prevent the declaration, that’s not going to work, because that’s the supreme law of Guyana,” the PPP/C General Secretary contended.
The APNU/AFC has claimed that the results from the National Recount cannot be credible because of unsubstantiated “massive electoral fraud”, and has put GECOM “on notice that it cannot use illegal and fraudulent votes to produce a valid and acceptable result”.
Among the fraud the incumbent party is claiming are: unstamped ballots, deceased and migrant voters voting, and missing poll books. In fact, caretaker President David Granger, in an address to the nation on Saturday, said these irregularities appear to have been committed intentionally, and demonstrate a pattern of manipulation of the electoral process.
However, many stakeholders have deemed the recount exercise transparent, and have noted that the only fraud that was detected was the fraud perpetrated in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – Guyana’s largest voting district – by embattled Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.
The recount has unearthed that Mingo heavily inflated figures in his contentious March 6 and 13 declarations in favour of the APNU/AFC, to fraudulently give the coalition victory.
Nevertheless, as the recount process wound down, voices from the domestic and international community – the Private Sector Commission; the US State Department; Ambassadors of the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Caribbean Community (Caricom), and Organisation of American States (OAS) have been calling for an acceptance of the recount by all the parties, leading to a peaceful transition for the new Government that has been chosen by the people of Guyana.
With the recounting and tabulation exercise completed, the Chief Elections Officer will now have to prepare his report to submit to the seven-member Elections Commission on or before June 13. The Commission has in its Gazetted Order on or before June 16 to make a final declaration of the March 2 polls, more than three months after polling was completed on March 2, making this the single longest such hiatus in the nation’s democratic history.