In final report, European Union says GECOM officials acted in blatant violation of law, court
Officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) acted in blatant violation of the law and High Court orders regarding the District Four vote count and GECOM abdicated its constitutional duty to take all actions necessary to ensure compliance with the law and oversee a proper tabulation process, the European Union Elections Observation Mission has said in its final report which was handed over Friday to the Guyana Elections Commission.
Voting and counting were well managed all over the country, as was the tabulation of results in nine of Guyana’s ten regions, the Mission stated but pointed to how the system was derailed when it came to the tabulation for District Four.
“After a transparent, largely uncontested tabulation was completed in most regions, the process abruptly derailed into chaos and confusion amidst obstruction tactics by election officials in decisive Region 4.
“On 5 March, the Returning Officer (RO) declared results without having tabulated them in the presence of party agents and observers as required by law.
“After these results were annulled by the Chief Justice as unlawful, GECOM still allowed the same RO to rush through the rest of the tabulation without any transparency in blatant violation of the law and explicit court orders, and to make a second declaration of unverified results on 13 March.
“The results declared by the RO on 13 March are not credible. These results gave APNU+AFC and PPP/C 136,057 and 77,231 votes respectively for the general elections in Region 4, enough for the ruling coalition to overcome the opposition’s advantage in the other regions and take the lead nationally.
“Supported by the online publication of almost all Region 4 polling station results protocols, PPP/C’s parallel tabulation suggested the opposite outcome. It gave the ruling coalition and the opposition 114,416 and 80,150 votes respectively in the region, thus placing PPP/C ahead nationally.
“After limited presence on election day, citizen observers played an important role in observing the tabulation in some regions, and particularly in Region 4.
“Joining forces in order to share collected polling station results, they contributed to increased scrutiny on the flawed tabulation process.”
The Mission was able to observe and report on all aspects of the election process until 20 March 2020 when, in light of the Covid19 pandemic, it was repatriated to Europe.
The Mission provided 26 recommendations to improve future electoral processes. These include eight priority recommendations suggesting to review and consolidate the fragmented election legislation; launch a consultation process to overhaul the composition and functioning of GECOM; develop effective legislation to regulate political finance; foster transparency and accountability in online and offline campaigning; transform the state-owned media into a genuine public service broadcaster; adopt clear written procedures for transmission and tabulation of election results; accompany any declaration of results by simultaneous publication of detailed polling station results and digital copies of all Statements of Poll, and establish comprehensive election dispute resolution system.
The European Union deployed the first-ever fully-fledged observer mission for the elections. It comprised 55 observers from 25 EU member states and Norway.
“The mission’s mandate was to assess the electoral process against international obligations and commitments for democratic elections as well as the laws of Guyana,” the Mission stated in a press release.