CARICOM team to ‘validate’ recount, Chief Elections Officer to draft plan

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has agreed to recall the high-level team from CARICOM to ‘validate’ and give credibility to the recount of all votes cast on March 2, 2020, in the general and regional elections and the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield is expected to present a draft plan on Wednesday to pave the way for the process to commence.

The Court of Appeal on Sunday ruled that CARICOM’s “supervisory” involvement in the recount was illegal but that the recount can go ahead.

Following the ruling, the Commission met on Monday at the agency’s Kingston, Georgetown headquarters where the CEO raised several questions on the logistical arrangements for the recount.

Speaking with the media following the meeting, GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander said a team from CARICOM will be recalled to validate the recount process.

He noted that all observers will be asked whether they are still available to “observe” the process but while their role will be an observatory, CARICOM’s role will be justification.

“We have decided today for our preference in terms of an external body to give some validation, it’s CARICOM,” Alexander said.

“The idea is to see if we can still get CARICOM involvement, not as supervising the count, a presence that can give some credibility and validation to what GECOM does,” he added.

At the invitation of President David Granger, a team of Caribbean Prime Ministers, including Dr Rowley, led by CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley visited Guyana last month to broker an agreement between President Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for a CARICOM team to supervise that recount.

The Independent High-Level Mission (from left): Ms Angela Taylor, Chief Electoral Officer, Barbados; Mr Anthony Boatswain, former Finance Minister, Grenada; Ms Francine Baron, Chair of the Team and former Attorney General and Foreign Minister, Dominica; Ms Fern Nacis-Scope, Chief Elections Officer, Trinidad and Tobago; Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer, Department of Government, UWI. [Photo: CARICOM HQ]
That agreement resulted in the signing of an aide-memoire which details CARICOM’s role.

The recount team comprising of Angela Taylor, Chief Electoral Officer, Barbados; Mr Anthony Boatswain, former Finance Minister, Grenada; Ms Francine Baron, Chair of the Team and former Attorney General and Foreign Minister, Dominica; Ms Fern Nacis-Scope, Chief Elections Officer, Trinidad and Tobago; Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies were selected and travelled to Guyana.

However, the team left of March 17 after an injunction was filed to block the recount. That injunction has since been thrown out by the full court.

Mottley had said the team is open to returning to Guyana.

Commissioner Alexander noted that the meeting on Monday sought to address several concerns raised by the CEO on what should be taken into consideration in drafting his plan.

He noted that the recount will include the examining of proxies, ballots which were deemed to be without stamps and all other ballots in the boxes. The process will not entail the use of Statements of Poll but a similar document will be developed for use.

The Commission is yet to decide whether the same returning officers will be retained to oversee the process or whether some other GECOM staff will be used.

The People’s Progressive Party had previously raised concerns about the use of Clairmont Mingo, the Returning officer for Region Four since his tabulation of votes was deemed fraudulent by international observers and other parties.

Opposition nominated GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj on Monday said a proposal was made for Mingo to be replaced since he “has led us to this position.”

The Commission also addressed the method of conducting the recount, the role of the Commission in resolving disputes, the reporting mechanisms which will be implemented among others.

No date has yet been agreed on for the start of the recount.

The Arthur Chung Conference Centre is expected to be retained for the recount.

 

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