• Chair asks Commission to discuss recount
• GECOM refuses to consider Lowenfield’s report on contentious elections results
• Lowenfield asked to contemplate operationalisation of recount
• Govt, Opposition commissioners in support of recount
• Decision expected today
By Kemol King
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is expected to decide on the way forward for the conclusion of the 2020 electoral process today.
While the Commission could have made a decision yesterday, Commissioner Vincent Alexander told reporters that his colleague, Commissioner Charles Corbin requested time to seek legal advice on the matter of a recount before the government-nominated commissioners made a decision on it.
It was previously reported that the Government-nominated commissioners caused a meeting which was supposed to have happened on Wednesday to be postponed. It was reported that this was because they wanted time to read the Full Court’s recent judgment on the Court’s lack of jurisdiction to grant injunctions barring a recount.
Commissioner Gunraj had communicated this to the public based on contents of an email message sent to him by GECOM.
The government-nominated Commissioners had come under harsh criticism from the Opposition.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting outside of GECOM’s Kingston headquarters yesterday afternoon, Alexander said that the government-nominated commissioners were misrepresented, and that that was clarified yesterday. He said that he was on standby for a meeting, and that he had been waiting on the Chair, (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh SC, to be in receipt of the document that she said she needed for the meeting to go on. Alexander explained that the Chair apologized after the matter was clarified.
Two meetings were held yesterday at GECOM. A release notes that Singh provided a background on the recent Court proceedings and explained that a contempt matter brought against her has not concluded, but that it has been shelved, since she has undertaken to conduct a full national recount. Given that, the Chair requested that the commission discuss the possibility of the recount within the framework of the law.
During the first meeting yesterday morning, Commissioner Robeson Benn moved a motion to begin the recount, but that motion was withdrawn in the afternoon, as the Opposition-nominated Commissioners expressed the view that the recount had already been decided on. Thus, they posited that it did not need to be decided on again – only operationalised. This, Gunraj said, is evidenced by the fact that Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield had already invited stakeholders to participate in the recount, including political parties and observer groups.
Another motion brought to the Commission was by Alexander, who asked the group to have Lowenfield’s report on the elections results – containing the declarations by the returning officers of the ten electoral districts – presented to and considered by the Commission.
Asked why he brought this motion to the Commission, Alexander said that there is “really no impediment to that report being tabled”. However, Kaieteur News pointed out the contentions raised by the international observers and political parties about the transparency and credibility of the region four tabulation headed by returning officer, Clairmont Mingo.
Alexander responded that the international observers should have observed the elections and made their submissions from a distance – a distance he said they did not heed. Hence, he would not be concerned with their submissions on the issue. He said he would only be concerned with the contentions raised by the political parties. However, he said he has not been in a position to make a judgment on discrepancies.Kaieteur News had reported that, on the night of the tabulation by Lowenfield at GECOM’s Kingston headquarters, Alexander would not address discrepancies raised, because he said he had only gotten there hours after the process had already begun.
On Alexander’s motion, the Government-nominated commissioners voted in favour while the Opposition-nominated Commissioners opposed it. This caused the Chair to have to intervene to break the tie. She voted against it, arguing that she was unable to allow the CEO to present his report, as a contempt motion was brought against her by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) which prevented her from doing so.
GECOM reconvenes today at 10:00am. The Commissioners are expected to vote on the recount which the Chair has strongly advocated for. It is likely that a recount will have the support of a majority of the Commission. Gunraj, who represents the Opposition side to the media, has spoken staunchly in support of it. Alexander, who speaks for the government’s side, said that he would support a recount, and that he would prefer it if such a recount is supervised by CARICOM, as it was previously contemplated. He said that the Commission is leaning more to a decision to have the recount.
Alexander said that Lowenfield has been asked by the Commission to begin to address the question of the operationalisation of the recount, if GECOM is to undertake it. A report from him on that is expected to be presented to GECOM today.
One issue that has reared its head now is the COVID-19 pandemic. The precautions being advised are sure to have some effect on the operationalisation of the national recount, if it were to happen. Gunraj said that he has considered this, and is preparing a series of proposals on this and other matters to ensure the modalities of the recount are robust.
May 26, 2020Last Sunday would’ve been the third edition of the Hornets rugby club’s Guyana Carnival 7s tournament, which was well on course of being one of the most popular club rugby tournament in the...
May 26, 2020
May 25, 2020
May 25, 2020
May 25, 2020
May 25, 2020
I wrote the other day that I have chalked up more than three decades in journalism. After that time, I should know how... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Caribbean countries are, once again, being placed in a difficult position as they try to navigate... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]