GECOM Commissioners row over timeline to review Lowenfield’s elections report

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After being locked in a meeting for hours on Thursday, the politically nominated Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) could not agree on an extension date of the recount process.

The Commission, headed by Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh, will have to meet again on Friday to iron out what APNU+AFC nominated GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander said are “tricky issues.”

Alexander rejected attempts by his colleague Commissioners to set a timeline for the Commission to review the observation reports coming out of the ongoing recount of votes cast in the March 02, 2020 elections.

The News Room understands that the meeting escalated between the Commissioners Thursday after the Secretariat proposed that the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield should have five days to prepare his report after the last ballot box is counted.

Vincent Alexander

GECOM is currently looking to extend the recount exercise to June 16, which will allow Lowenfield to complete his tabulation and submit his report for submission to the Commission.

Thereafter, the Commission will be allowed to review the observation reports for each of the 10 electoral districts recounted. Those reports will include the anomalies reported during the recount along with allegations made by the incumbent APNU+AFC that dead and migrated persons voted at the March 2 polls.

In this regard, the People’s Progressive Party nominated Commissioners want GECOM to set a timeline for that review when it makes changes to the gazetted order for the recount.

Alexander believes this is an attempt to prescribe a new date into the order that was not previously there.

“These are attempts to specify the dates of declaration and review of those reports… my only disposition is that the order did not provide for that, it provides for a review of the 25 days [only],” Alexander added.

He told reporters that he believes there are people who intend for GECOM to make a final declaration on the recount based only on the numerical count but insisted that GECOM must allow itself time for the consideration of the observation reports.

“That’s where we are stuck… we are going to have in addition to the 10 tabulations which will come together into one, 10 observation reports…those have got to be discussed and it takes time. If you see what we have been coming up with in terms of volume, it will take time,” he explained.

Alexander said the recount was done to allow for a credible determination of the results “and that credibility has to do with much of what in observation report.”

He believes the report lends to the credibility of the exercise and it cannot be ignored.

But the PPP’s Anil Nandlall does not believe that GECOM should leave the timeline open to deliberate on Lowenfield’s report.

“We want them to tell us how much time, it cannot be for the rest of the year, they are not fixing a time, this country is on hold, people’s lives are on hold… the process must come to an end,” Nandlall said Thursday.

Further, he does not believe that GECOM has the legal authority to deal with the issues in the observation reports. Nandlall, a former Attorney General, said any attempt by GECOM to investigate the allegations within the reports would be illegal and the PPP will move to the courts to stop it.

“GECOM can’t convert itself into a judge and jury… it has to go to court. Anytime the Commission acts outside of legal powers the court will be there to stop it,” he added.

The 25-day timeline for the recount process comes to an end on Saturday, May 30.

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