GECOM meets at 1 p.m. to decide on declaration of results
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) meets from 13:00h today to decide on the declaration of the results from the vote recount which showed the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) winning by 15, 416 votes.
The Constitution at Article 177 dictates that “if more votes are cast in favour of the list in which a person is designated as Presidential candidate that in favour of any other list, that Presidential Candidate shall be ‘deemed’ to be elected President and shall be so declared by the Chairman of the Elections Commission acting only in accordance with the advice of the Chief Elections Officer…”
The Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield has presented his report showing that more votes were cast in favour of the list headed by Irfaan Ali, and so he is deemed President and it is only left for the GECOM Chairman Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh to declare him President.
Lowenfield’s report correctly showed the figures which were tabulated and certified as being valid during the vote recount. He attached to that report what was expected to be a summary of the observation reports that flowed from the recount.
It was instead a document highlighting the unsubstantiated allegations APNU+AFC made about the electoral process, adding that based on those allegations he could not be sure that the results of the elections could be considered credible.
APNU+AFC is pushing for the elections to be nullified based on Lowenfield’s opinion.
According to the recount order, GECOM is not obligated to consider the allegations made by Lowenfield. Its only duty is to consider the report containing the figures from the recount.
Paragraph 14 of the recount order states: “The Commission shall, after deliberating on the report…determine whether it should request the Chief Elections Officer to use the data compiled…as the basis for the submission of a report under section 96 of the Representation of the People Act (Chapter) 1:03.”
And so, the Commission does not have to consider the document Lowenfield presented apart from the report of the figures from the recount.
Former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran has described the document by Lowenfield as “uninvited and ultra vires opinion.”
Ramkarran, a Senior Counsel, versed in Guyana’s electoral laws, said Justice Singh must make a declaration of the results based on the recount and were she to accept any other suggestion would serve to destroy the electoral system and democracy in Guyana.
“Guyana will return to rigged elections, dictatorial rule, economic degradation, ethnic oppression, worse corruption, police harassment, imprisonment and killings, an unfree press, arrogance, vindictiveness and more, all of which Guyana experienced between 1968 and 1992.
“It will be another 25 to 50 years before Guyana wins its freedom again, if at all. Surely, this is not the legacy that Justice Singh wants to leave,” Ramkarran stated.