Roysdale Forde, who said recount was final, now seeking to nullify process
By Ravin Singh
Roysdale Forde, a candidate and a leading attorney for the APNU+AFC coalition seeking to nullify the national recount of votes which his party had agreed to, said two months ago that the results of the recount would be final.
That recount shows that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has beaten the APNU+AFC by more than 15,000 votes.
Last week, Chairperson of the Guyana Elections (GECOM) Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh set aside 10 regional declarations made prior to the recount exercise and asked Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield to prepare his final elections report to reflect the results of the recount.
However, a supporter of the APNU+AFC moved to the High Court, with the legal support of Forde, who was a national candidate for the Coalition – seeking to nullify the recount and have GECOM make a declaration based on the 10 regional or district declarations.
According to the court documents, Misenga Jones of the APNU+AFC is seeking “a Declaration that the report required by the Chief Election Officer under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act must be based on the votes counted and information furnished by the ten (10) Returning Officers from their respective ten (10) Electoral Districts which were submitted to the Chief Election Officer on the 13th day of March, 2020.”
The national recount exposed that taken together, those 10 declarations fraudulently handed the APNU+AFC a victory by inflating that party’s votes by 19,116 and reducing the PPP’s by 3,689.
And although he is now pushing to have a declaration based on those fictitious numbers, Forde had said on May 16 that the results of the recount would be “final”.
“We take the view that whatever happens at the recount is final,” the Attorney said during an engagement with reporters outside the Arthur Chung Convention Centre where the recount was ongoing.
However, Forde’s client has also asked the Court for: “A Declaration that the Chief Election Officer is not entitled to base his report required by Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act on data generated from the recount purported to be carried out under Order No. 60 of 2020.”
On July 9, Guyana’s Apex court – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – ruled that the CEO is obligated to prepare his final report for a declaration in keeping with the request made by the Chairperson.
The Chair has asked Lowenfield to prepare his report to reflect the certified numbers from the recount – numbers which show that the PPP has won.
APNU+AFC Commissioner on the Elections Commission, Vincent Alexander, had also confirmed on May 14 that Order 60 – which operationalized the national recount – provides for the Commission to tell the CEO how to prepare his final report.
“We articulated in the Order that we would advise the CEO on the compilation of the final report after he would have made available to us, the tabulations and the observations. Then we would advise him [on that] and I don’t think there was any dissenting voice on that,” Alexander had said.
However, the APNU+AFC sponsored court filings is seeking: “A Declaration that the Chief Election Officer is not subject to the direction of either the Chairman or GECOM in the content of the advice he is required to furnish under Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution of Guyana.”
This conflicts with Section 18 of the Elections Law (Amendment) Act 2000 which states that: “The Chief Election Officer and the Commissioner of Registration shall notwithstanding anything in any written law be subject to the direction and control of the Commission.”
Meanwhile, when asked about accepting the results of the recount, should it show that his party his lost, Forde, on May 16, drew attention to an elections petition – a legal instrument used to settle election disputes after the declaration of a winner.
“Finality and acceptance of the results mean that you want to ask me whether at some point in time in the future, the party will take a decision to file and election petition. Should it go the other way, would the other party file a petition? Those are matters which I don’t think we are in a position to answer,” the APNU+AFC Attorney shared.
There has been a resounding call by local and international stakeholders for a declaration to be made based on the certified results from the recount.
A high-level Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team which the President, Opposition Leader and GECOM agreed would scrutinize the recount, has concluded that the results of the recount are credible and a declaration should be made based on those results.
Chief Justice Roxane George will rule on Monday whether a declaration can be made based on the 10 regional declarations which contain fictitious numbers, or the whether the CEO is compelled to produce his final report to reflect the certified results of the recount.