GECOM meeting postponed as Coalition Commissioners ask for time to study CCJ judgment
The meeting called by Justice Claudette Singh, Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for Thursday afternoon has been postponed.
Opposition nominated GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj wrote on his Facebook page that “apparently” Commissioners from APNU+AFC “need an opportunity to study the (CCJ) judgement!!!”
Gunraj expressed frustration and asked: “Hasn’t this country and its people suffered enough?”
The meeting was postponed to Friday at a time yet to be decided.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday said 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 and so he is expected to prepare a report based on the results of the national vote recount.
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,” President of the CCJ Justice Adrian 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.
“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 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 as the Court of Appeal did. That Court of Appeal decision was struck out.
“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 there would quickly be a peaceable restoration of normalcy.”