It was quite surprising to learn that the Guyana Elections Commission had to vote again on a decision to recount the ballots cast at this year’s General and Regional Elections. GECOM had already taken a unanimous decision, two weeks ago, to undertake a recount.
It would have amounted to an about-turn and bad faith to have gone back on that decision without compelling legal grounds. There are no such grounds; the legal pathway was cleared by the discharge of an injunction preventing a recount.
The fly in the ointment then was that the agreement which was signed between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, as brokered by the Caribbean Community.
It is not my belief that the agreement in any way attempted or intended to usurp the functions of GECOM. Indeed, it was explicit that GECOM holds responsibility for the management of the elections. The agreement acknowledged GECOM’s independence.
A commitment to a recount was echoed by the Chairman in affidavits submitted to the court. Now that GECOM has decided to go ahead with the recount, there are forces which may be inclined to introduce technicalities concerning the basis of any final declarations to be made. That would be for GECOM to decide, considering its powers under the Constitution.
The law, however, is not an ass. There is no need to engage in technicalities. Legal interpretation is not based on technicalities. When it comes to elections’ laws, these have to be interpreted purposively to give effect to the intention of the framers. When it comes to the Constitution, the law has to be interpreted with the broadest of latitude so as to respect the democratic underpinnings of State sovereignty.
The government’s strategy is clear. It is one, which is an old military approach which has outlived its usefulness in modern day. The government is trying to wear the Opposition down so as to break its will.
This was what was done during the process of selecting a Chairperson of GECOM after the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice, which annulled the previous appointment. The government put forward all kinds of frustration on the process, until they got Jagdeo to agree to the very candidate, which it wanted all along.
Right now, we have a major crisis in the country, a crisis the likes of which has never been seen. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases and the number of deaths have doubled in three days.
For each of the 23 persons, three more persons would have been infected and for each of those three more and so the exponential function goes on. Right now, therefore there are thousands of infected persons in Guyana who may be infected and not know.
This is why PAHO has increased its estimates from 1400 cases to 20,000 by May. This means that PAHO estimates that we will have a surge in confirmed cases and deaths soon. We already have a staggering death rate of about 20% of confirmed cases. No country in the world has that high a death rate.
The curve on Guyana’s graph is shot upwards. We are about two weeks away from serious problems unless there is a lockdown. This has been the experience of other countries. Most of the countries, which have imposed lockdowns have seen massive deaths and do not expect changes until two weeks from now.
Things usually get worse just after the lockdowns before they expect it to get better. But without the lockdowns, they will get disastrous
Guyana’s inept government expects things to get better without any lockdown. It is defying statistical reality.
The government is incapable of responding to this crisis. One week after calls for a lockdown, the government has put a prohibition on entertainment places after 6pm when more than 80% of the population is at home. This has to be a joke.
Is it hoping to drag the spread of the virus out as long as possible in the hope of a result that it finds favorable? The government is living in some outer stratosphere. That strategy does not work with the election results and it cannot work with coronavirus.
The longer it takes to implement firmer social restrictions, the more uncontrollable the situation will be become. The longer it takes to settle the elections results, the more inept decisions will emanate from the government.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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