Ramkarran says remedy exists for declaration of elections results without Lowenfield’s report
Attorney-at-Law and Presidential Candidate for A New and United Guyana (ANUG) Ralph Ramkarran on Tuesday said he highly anticipates a favourable ruling from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Guyana’s elections impasse.
Guyanese from across the political divide are anxious ahead of Wednesday’s ruling with hopes that it will bring an end to the more than four months deadlock that has affected the smooth functioning of the country since polls on March 02, 2020.
Ramkarran, in acknowledging the anxiety and tension among citizens, has outlined four possible ways in which the CCJ can rule but explained that regardless of what ruling is handed down, there is a remedy for the elections to be declared without the report of the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield.
That remedy, as he puts it, is that the Elections Commission, relying on article 162 (A and B) of the Constitution can ignore any report from Lowenfield which does not reflect the recount figures and make a declaration of its own.
“If [when the CCJ rules] an opening remains for Lowenfield to persist in giving results that do not reflect the recount results, the Chair who instructed him on June 16th to issue his report based on recount figures can then utilize powers under article 161 and issue declaration to bring the matter to an end,” he said during an interview with the News Room Tuesday.
Lowenfield had said he was relying on the Court of Appeal ruling of June 22 when he presented a report in which he dumped 115,844 votes to hand the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition a victory instead of using verified figures from the national recount exercise that showed the main opposition People’s Progressive Party winning the elections by over 15,000 votes.
The former House Speaker said regardless of how the CCJ rules no one knows how Lowenfield will react but Ramkarran suspects that Lowenfield intends to continue to push his June 23 report which disobeyed clear instructions from Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, former Judge Claudette Singh.
Singh had asked Lowenfield on June 16 to prepare his report based on the recount figures but before he could do that the matter was taken to the Court of Appeal by a private citizen which saw a 2-1 ruling on the interpretation of ‘more votes’ in the constitution to mean ‘more valid votes.’
According to Ramkarran, the CCJ in its ruling on Wednesday can say it doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case which can bring the matter to an end, or it can accept jurisdiction but say that the Court of Appeal was right in its ruling.
He said the regional court has a third and fourth option where it can accept jurisdiction and say the Court of Appeal was wrong and say nothing further or it can say the Court of Appeal was wrong and give orders on what should be done.
Ramkarran in his applications to the CCJ asked the CCJ to accept jurisdiction, rule that the Court of Appeal was wrong and then order that the declaration be done based on the recount figures, bringing the matter to a close.
He is hopeful that this will happen.
He insisted that whether Lowenfield issues a report, GECOM’s Chairman can proceed and issue a declaration.
But Lowenfield, against his own words in 2015, now claims that the Commission cannot instruct him in preparing his report.
To this end, Ramkarran provided a historical context where, in 2015 the then Chief Elections Officer Gocool Budhoo was instructed by the Commission to change his report where he incorrectly allocated parliamentary seats and he had to comply before the declaration was made.
Ramkarran called on Guyanese to remain calm and peaceful as the matter comes to an end.