…refuses permission for additional counting stations
The Moses Nagamootoo-led National Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force has refused permission to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to house two additional counting stations at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC) in a bid to accelerate the National Recount process.
The Task Force decision was communicated to GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, by Coordinator of the Task Force’s Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) Dr Colin James in a missive dated May 28. The Task Force’s response comes a week after the request was made by GECOM to set up the additional stations.
Addressing the GECOM Chairperson, Dr James noted thus: “Conscious of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) nature and scope of activities at this time, the National COVID-19 Taskforce HEOC deliberations have arrived at the conclusion that public safety and wellness remains the primary focus to mitigate the negative impact and to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dr James has said the Task Force “has diligently reviewed its Reports dated 21st April 2020 and 15th May 15, 2020 submitted to your Commission, and has determined that it cannot concede to the request for the installation and operation of additional workstation and increase in the number of persons to be in the ACCC during the period of Recount.”
The Commission is yet to make a public announcement, although the Task Force’s missive was shared with the media.
Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic Commissioner Sase Gunraj is on record on numerous occasions reiterating his adumbrations that GECOM is an independent constitutional body and that it did not need permission from the Task Force in order to establish more counting stations.
He recently told media operatives, “While I recognise and appreciate the importance of COVID-19 and the effect it’s having on the world — I have lots of respect for it, perhaps even fear — however, GECOM is an independent body.”
According to Gunraj, “With the necessary medical advice, I believe we are free to make decisions in relation to the use of this building. From the outset, let me say — and I have said this before — I don’t believe that we should be seeking permission from the COVID-19 Task Force.”