Granger had said he would accept ‘whatever’ declaration is made by GECOM
By Ravin Singh
Two months after caretaker President David Granger explicitly said he was prepared to accept the results of the March 02 elections as declared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), his Coalition APNU+AFC is insisting on a path that defies the court and all other local parties and the international community.
During the recount, on May 17, the President made a commitment to reporters that he would accept “any” declaration made by Chairperson of GECOM, Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh.
“Whatever declaration is made by the Chairman of the Elections Commission will be regarded as legitimate by the Coalition.
“As President of Guyana and leader of Government, it is my policy that ‘any’ declaration coming from the Chairman of GECOM will be accepted by the Government of Guyana. I speak for the Government of Guyana,” he assured reporters.
On June 16, the APNU+AFC’s Prime Ministerial Candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan also committed to abiding by and respecting any decision made by GECOM in relation to a declaration.
“We’ll have to respect her [the Chairperson’s] decision. I have indicated that I certainly will; that’s my position and we all agree that we are going to respect her decision,” Ramjattan had said.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Granger’s APNU+AFC said that: “We maintain that the elections commission can only make a declaration based on valid votes.”
GECOM and the Courts have already pronounced on what valid votes are and have ruled that it is the votes from the national recount which must be used.
The party said that it is “resolved to ensure that fraudulent votes cannot be factored in to represent the will of the electorate,” and that any attempt to include fraudulent votes in a “declaration” will constitute a violation of the Constitution and the fundamental principles of democracy.
But if the results it wants to be used are declared, it is the Coalition that will be sworn in on fraudulent votes and the international community has warned that it will face dire consequences if it does so.
The recount proved that the Returning Officer for District Four bumped up figures so as to give the Coalition victory.
This country’s highest court – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – on July 8 ruled that votes already counted during the national recount of votes are valid and should form the basis of a declaration of a winner.
“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,” Section 24 of the CCJ’s Summary Judgement reads.
Those votes counted as valid and certified by all parties, show the Coalition lost the elections by over 24,000 votes.
The recount has been certified by all parties and approved by a CARICOM high-level team, which the President said was “the most legitimate interlocutor”.
Local and international stakeholders have collectively called for the recount results to be used as the basis for a declaration, and just as the GECOM Chair made her request to the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) for a final report reflecting those results, the APNU+AFC moved to the court to block the declaration.
After the High Court ruled that the recount results are to be used for a declaration in keeping with the CCJ’s ruling, the coalition moved to the Court of Appeal to have that ruling reversed.
Despite doing this, the party has maintained that it is not stalling the process or preventing a declaration from being made.
APNU+AFC is seeking to have the court approve the use of 10 regional declarations which handed it a victory based on fraudulent numbers.
In late June and early July, the party also attempted to secure a victory based on two attempts by the CEO to unlawfully disenfranchise 275,000 and 115,000 voters, respectively.