PPP will never accept 156-day recount plan – Jagdeo
…says another ploy for Govt to continue squatting in office
The proposed 156-day recount plan proposed by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Secretariat has already earned all-round criticism, including from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and his party, the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP).
In a short statement through his social media account on Wednesday, Jagdeo described the plan as a naked attempt to have the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition government hang on to power illegally. He made it clear that the PPP will not accept the 156-day proposal.
“The People’s Progressive Party will never accept the 156 days recount proposal of the compromised, Lowenfield- led Secretariat. We believe that this is a delay tactic and another attempt by the APNU+AFC to hang on to power illegally,” Jagdeo said.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, the party elaborated even further by pointing out that the party can come up with a comprehensive proposal that is both lawful and able to accomplish the recount in two weeks.
“The proposal presented by the Secretariat of GECOM for a recount of the ballots is simply ridiculous. The timeframe proposed is 156 days. The law provides a 90- day period for preparation of elections. Further, the entire country’s results are normally totalled in about 2 hours after the close of poll, and the law provides 15 days for declaration of results, including recounts and further recounts.
“Yet Keith Lowenfield wants almost 6 months to count less than 500,000 ballots. This is obviously yet another ploy by the rigging cabal to continue their enterprise of derailing the electoral process and thwart the will of the electorate,” the PPP said in its statement.
According to the party, many components of the proposal presented by Lowenfield are either unnecessary or can provide opportunities for the recounting process to be disrupted again.
It was also pointed out that the nation’s patience is running out, and that the onus is on GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, to be vigilant.
“We take this opportunity, once again, to call upon the Chairperson to not only be vigilant, but to act decisively in respect of the proposals, and most importantly, in ensuring a fair and transparent framework is established in accordance with the law to facilitate an expedient recounting process that will enjoy the confidence of not only the stakeholders, but indeed the nation and the international community.
“To contribute to such a framework, the People’s Progressive Party, through its Commissioners, will present a comprehensive proposal which is in keeping with the law and will conclude the process within two weeks. The PPP will therefore never accept any proposal that is farcical and which is ultimately designed to keep the illegal APNU+AFC squatting in office.”
It was announced on Wednesday that GECOM had received a draft work plan for a national recount from Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield that proposes a staggering 156 days to recount the ballots, something described as unacceptable by one half of the commission.
A statement from the GECOM was later released, in which they admitted that while the timeframe is lengthy, it takes into account social distancing and projecting the ballots on a screen. Moreover, the secretariat emphasized that this proposal is not a final one.
“The Secretariat had to consider matters of law in relation to the procedures to conduct a recount; approved decisions of the Commission and the current COVID-19 pandemic affecting the health situation of the population.
“In this regard, the Secretariat considered the request by the Commission for each ballot to be projected on screen, examination of the contents of the ballot box i.e. ascertaining the number of electors on the list, the number of electors who voted, counting votes cast for both General and Regional Election, and validation of spoilt, questioned and rejected ballots.”
GECOM further explained that Lowenfield’s proposal was for three work stations to be used for 10 hours per day between 09:00hrs and 19:00hrs at a central location, likely to be the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. There are 2339 boxes to be counted, at a rate of two hours per ballot box.