Another day has passed, and the highly anticipated national recount of ballots of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections is now considerably farther from fruition.
This time, interim injunctions filed by a regional candidate of the APNU/AFC Coalition have put a temporary halt on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)’s efforts to facilitate the recount.
Initially, the recount was slated to commence on Monday at noon at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, the official site chosen for the recount. But that was unable to commence due to several factors.
The Guyana Elections Commission had on Sunday met with the members of the independent high level CARICOM Team tasked with overlooking the recount to work out the modalities.
This was done, but the official agreement; the aide memoire was not signed until late Sunday evening and was said to be one of the factors that stalled the Monday recount.
Other factors included that the containers with the ballot boxes were not moved from GECOM’s Headquarters in Kingston to the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC). Those were only transported late Monday evening.
Next, the recount was stalled again after workers from the Health Ministry’s Vector Control Department showed up at the ACCC with instructions to fumigate the compound for “ants.”
After this was done, riot police made their way onto the scene and ordered that party representatives and accredited observers remove or face arrest.
This resulted in a ruckus, including an altercation between the police and GECOM Commissioner Robeson Benn. Benn was seen wearing a sling on his arm, but the representatives were later allowed inside with a rule of one person per party. That put a cap on the Monday recount.
Then yesterday, Kaieteur News had received information that the recount should have started at about nine in the morning, but that was delayed.
However, the Commissioners were called to an emergency meeting which put a further delay on the recount. That meeting lasted for hours, and a GECOM press release indicated that all that was left to be done was the granting of an order for the recount to happen.
Yesterday afternoon, court marshals appeared at the GECOM Headquarters with documents in hand which turned out to be the interim injunctions that now obstruct the recount.
With all the delays, Opposition-appointed Commissioner Sase Gunraj opined that there is a deliberate attempt by the Secretariat of the Elections Commission to thwart the will of the electorate.
Gunraj asserted that the constant delays were mere ploys to facilitate the injunction, and stated that this fact is “quite unfortunate.” He told the media after the meeting with the Commission that “what we have seen from the Guyana Elections Commission itself over the last few days, or two weeks back – because we have now gone two weeks without elections being concluded – are all delay tactics.”
“What gives me great grief is that there were deliberate attempts and delays throughout this process and I believe that those delays were contrived to facilitate the filing, hearing of an interim injunction stopping this recount process,” he continued.
When asked who was specifically responsible, Gunraj stated only “I would want to put those delays squarely behind the feet of GECOM.”
He mentioned that the elections body has wasted the time of the high level CARICOM team who made themselves readily available when requested by President David Granger.
Gunraj relayed that as a result of the delays, “they have come here, for several days now and have not been given the opportunity to perform their functions”.
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