Basil Williams accused of misrepresentations, lies and fabrications at OAS meeting
Guyana’s Attorney General on Tuesday resurrected his arguments which the High Court already called “hopelessly flawed” as he once again claimed that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had thrown out the legal order which provided for the national vote recount. This attracted a strong rebuke from former Attorney General Ani Nandlall who said Williams was continuing the government’s “misrepresentations, lies and fabrications” as President David Granger hides in the background while using his minions to “dismantle” the recount and its results.
Williams was speaking at a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), which was called to discuss the electoral crisis in Guyana.
Williams claimed that the CCJ held that the legal order which allowed for the national vote recount was subsidiary legislation, “the lowest level of legislation in Guyana.” He then falsely claimed that the CCJ said the order was “in tension with the constitution and therefore it must go and it was invalid.”
He repeatedly pushed that argument, saying once that the CCJ “nullified” the recount order. Later, he said the CCJ “vitiated” the order.
Williams also wrong claimed that the CCJ said the recount order “cannot work and you must go back to original electoral machinery.” He said that is why the Chief Elections Officer,
Keith Lowenfield, ignored the results of the recount and used figures which were condemned as fraudulent.
“Again, he continues to spin a narrative that defies reality,” said Nandlall, adding that it is part of the ploy by President Granger’s APNU+AFC Coalition to rig the elections to remain in office.
“The narrative that he (Williams) is reciting is a narrative that is inconsistent with everything that every other person and every other organisation has observed and spoke about and wrote about” in relation to the elections, Nandlall stated.
The CCJ’s decision of July 09 on the recount is completely at odds with what Williams told the OAS. The CCJ did not throw out the recount but in fact validated it.
In the case brought by APNU+AFC supporter Eslyn David, the CCJ had pronounced that “unless and until an election court decides otherwise, the votes already counted by the recount process as valid votes are incapable of being declared invalid by any person or authority.”
Last Friday, in arguments before the High Court, the Attorney General argued that the recount order created a new regime which is in tension with Article 177(2)(b) and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act which provides for the Chief Elections Officer to ascertain the elections result by calculating the total number of valid votes cast from the declarations of the returning officers.
He came to that conclusion based on his interpretation of the July 9 ruling of the CCJ. But it was only one day ago that Chief Justice Roxane George ruled that the Court of Appeal had already “definitively” concluded that the recount order was valid.
She further said that the interpretation of the CCJ decision by the Attorney General was “hopelessly flawed.”
“The CCJ judgment lends to the ineluctable conclusion that the recount votes are ex facie valid,” the Chief Justice ruled.
On June 16, The Chief Elections Officer was told to prepare a report based on the results of the national vote recount and to determine the number of Parliamentary seats for each party.
But he failed to do that when he presented a report on June 23 that was based on his own figures.
The CCJ discarded that report and said the lawful route for him was to comply with what he was told.
“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 in delivering the judgement of the Court on July 9.
So the CCJ was clear that to follow the law, Lowenfield must comply with the direction he was given.
The Court had urged that this be done without delay.
“It is for GECOM to ensure that the election results are swiftly declared in accordance with the Laws of Guyana,” Justice Saunders stated.
Williams maintained that the APNU+AFC has won the elections though the recount showed otherwise.
Nandlall said that immediately after agreeing to the recount, knowing his Coalition had lost the elections, the President went into hiding but began to use his minions to dismantle the agreement he committed to with the Opposition Leader and CARICOM.
He recounted that Granger’s three commissioners at GECOM did not give their consent to the recount decision and later the Coalition conspired with their candidate to stop the recount. But that did not work and the recount went ahead.
Nandlall noted that while President Granger continued to commit to the recount with platitudinous and sanctimonious expressions to be bound by it, his agents set out to derail the recount process by making unsubstantiated allegations of the names of dead persons and those not in the country voting. Some of these were raised by the APNU+AFC’s campaign manager Joseph Harmon in letters to GECOM.
The Chief Justice noted that the CCJ clearly considered the allegations made by Harmon as regards irregularities, voter impersonation and fraud and decided that these are questions meant for an elections petition after the results of the elections are declared.
And so the Chief Justice concluded that “far from nullifying (Order) 60 and the recount process…the CCJ explicitly endorsed it.”