CARICOM teams says delay in recount was ‘built in’ by GECOM
In a damning report it presented Monday, the high-level CARICOM team which scrutinised the national vote recount said the process was designed to be long and drawn out and that the objections which were raised were a clear political exercise by APNU+AFC to prepare for a legal challenge to the elections.
“…we have concluded that delay was deliberately built into the system, given the Work Plan produced by GECOM and that the process could have been accelerated without sacrificing the vaunted and necessary transparency of the recount process,” the report states.
The Work Plan was produced by the GECOM Secretariat headed by the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield.
The team said the requirement for a manual recount of the ballots, by definition, ensured a level of inefficiency as it required the individual reviewing the paper ballots and the announcement of each vote.
In the team’s assessment, it said many of the issues which emerged at the recount and which contributed to excessive delay proved to be a political exercise and was done primarily with the political objective of preparing the groundwork for a post recount legal challenge of the recount.
“We are also buoyed in our assessment of this political objective given the public statements of the Attorney General of Guyana on the validity of the recount; a comment which the team felt was a snub to CARICOM by the Government’s legal advisor,” the CARICOM team stated.
Basil Williams had on May 16 questioned the “status” and “purpose” of the national recount.
Agents for APNU+AFC were the only ones making objections during the recount.
The CARICOM team said it was of the firm opinion that the decision to insist on the elaborate checklist for the recount was a questionable one, indeed a bad decision, which contributed to the lengthy and unreasonable length of time to recount the ballots.
“In essence what occurred at the recount was more akin to an audit and not a recount,” the Team stated.
The team said that where there were some minor issues, it did not view these as sinister.
“Nothing we saw up to the closing days of the recount suggested that the poll workers on March 02, 2020 conducted themselves in a manner which would indicate illegality of a deliberate intent to benefit a particular list of candidates,” the team stated.
However, the team stated that during the last few days of the recount, it observed several boxes which did not contain the statutory documents, such as poll books, unused ballot papers, the Official List of Elections, the counterfoil of used ballots and so on.
To this, the Team recommended an investigation into the missing documents.