The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is in full support of a national recount of all the votes cast in the March 2 general and regional elections.
But the party is concerned that the integrity of such a process would be severely compromised if controversial Region Four’s Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, is retained in the post.
PPP’s executive and former Attorney General, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, spoke with reporters yesterday outside of the Kingston’s Appeals Court, making the party’s position clear.
Mingo has produced two declarations for the results of the Region Four General and Regional Elections.
Both instances of the declaration were marred by a lack of transparency and accusations of electoral fraud.
The first occurred at the Hadfield Street’s Ashmin’s building, which had been used as Mingo’s office.
There, Mingo produced a tabulation involving a spreadsheet, which the Opposition said veered off the lawful path mandated by the Representation of the People Act for the tabulation of votes, and made a declaration which was brought hotly under contention.
The law required Mingo to source all of the numbers in his tabulation from the statements of poll, they said.
However, the officials entitled to observe the process did not observe him doing so for a considerable set of the results.
Ambassadors, international observers and party representatives who observed the count shared the view that the tabulation was not credible.
The declaration was challenged in the courts, and it was deemed unlawful by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire.
The judge instructed Mingo to return to the tabulation process using the procedures mandated by law.
As a result, the venue for the tabulation was moved to GECOM’s Kingston headquarters, where similar accusations followed/
At that location, Mingo produced statements of poll using a projector. Party representatives said that they were not afforded the opportunity to observe the security features of many of the statements of poll presented.
Hence, they could not verify properly the information.
Party representatives also complained that figures on the statements of poll were clearly doctored to place the vote in favour of the incumbent Coalition and thus return President David Granger for a second term.
At times, party representatives and observers walked out of the venue during the count.
This second time, Mingo made his declaration late at night, and was swept away from the compound by police immediately after.
This second instance of the declarations was also deemed not credible, and this kicked off a wave of international condemnation.
Political party representatives said that the numbers produced by Mingo, in both instances, did not match many of the figures on the statements of poll in their possession. While GECOM is not required to verify its statements of poll against those held by the parties, the differences were a major cause for concern.
Guyana has been warned that if a government is sworn in on the basis of these flawed results, the government would not be recognised as legitimate.
These warnings have come from especially Guyana’s key partners including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Both of Mingo’s declarations placed the incumbent in the lead in the General and Regional Elections. However, they were vastly different from each other. No explanation has yet been given by GECOM for this difference.
Mingo had refused requests for recounts after both declarations were made, on technical grounds.
This caused the Chair of the Commission, (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh to have to step in and advocate for a recount.
All of this has made Mingo a subject of public discourse, and has caused public trust in GECOM to waver.
“How can you entrust such an individual to be part of the process again?” Nandlall asked yesterday.
“We are looking for a solution. Mingo is part of the problem. He must be removed completely from the exercise. That is our position.”
He said that Mingo is “by no means, indispensable”.
There are over scores of Deputy Returning Officers appointed in Region Four.
Nandlall suggested for a Deputy Returning Officer to perform as Returning Officer, to assume Mingo’s post.
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