Retired judge Claudette Singh has asked for a meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) following Wednesday’s decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ); the CCJ ruled that it is for GECOM to ensure that the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield submits a report in accordance with the direction he was given.
The meeting is tentatively set for 1 p.m. Thursday.
“It was inconsistent with the constitutional framework for the CEO (Lowenfield) or GECOM to disenfranchise tens of thousands of electors in a seemingly non-transparent and arbitrary manner…,” Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the CCJ stated.
Lowenfield was on June 16 told by Justice Singh to prepare an elections report with the tabulation of the national vote recount and calculate the Parliamentary seats assigned to each party. But he failed to do that and relied on a Court of Appeal ruling of June 22 to decide on his own which votes are valid. But the CCJ threw out both the Court of Appeal’s decision and Lowenfield’s.
“It is for GECOM to ensure the CEO submits a report in accordance with its direction of June 16 in order to proceed along the path directed by the laws of Guyana,” Justice Saunders stated.
GECOM has not met since Lowenfield presented his report, which discarded over 115,000 votes and handed victory to the Coalition APNU+AFC instead of the PPP, as the recount clearly showed.
Justice Saunders in reading the judgment of the Court noted that what the Court of Appeal in its majority ruling was to embark on an exercise of interpreting Order 60, the recount order, and then apply it to the clear words of 177 (2) (b) that the party for which more votes are cast wins the elections.
However, the CCJ ruled that the Constitution required no refinement.
“That article in plain and simple language has always said what it meant and meant what it said,” Justice Saunders stated.
The CCJ ruled that the concept of valid votes is well known to the legislative framework in Guyana. He said there is a transparent process that weeds out invalid votes and that was done during the count, such as by removing spoilt ballots and so on.
Justice Saunders said there was no further need to reference valid votes in the laws or constitution of Guyana.
“By the unnecessary insertion into Article 177 (2) (b) the word valid, the Court of Appeal impliedly invited the CEO to engage unilaterally in a further and unlawful validation exercise that trespassed on the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court,” Justice Saunders stated.
He added: “It has been four months since elections were held and the country has been without a Parliament for well over one year. No one in Guyana would consider this to be a satisfactory state of affairs. We express the fervent hope that the would quickly be a peaceable restoration of normalcy.”