“We are concerned that Madam Chair going down a very, very slippery slope.”
These were the words expressed by Presidential Candidate of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lenox Shuman, regarding the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) alleged decision to probe the claims of voter irregularity by the APNU + AFC Coalition.
During a press briefing yesterday outside of the national recount centre at Liliendaal, Shuman alluded to a letter dated on May 22, 2020, Madam Chair Claudette Singh, dispatched to Head of the Immigration Department, Leslie James, who is also the Commissioner of Police. This letter requested Commissioner James to verify whether persons whose names and dates of birth were submitted on a list, had migrated and could not have exercised their franchise on March 2, 2020—as claimed by the APNU+AFC.
Against this, the Presidential Candidate said, “There are several issues that are wrong with that; the first is that in our view and based on the legal advice that we have had is that GECOM does not have within its mandate the powers to undertake such exercise as is outlined in Article 163 of the Constitution.”
Article 163 (1)(a)(i) explicitly states “… the High Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any question… either generally or in any particular place, an election has been lawfully conducted or the result thereof has been, or may have been, affected by any unlawful act of omission.”
Former Attorney General and executive of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Anil Nandlall and other stakeholders of the March 2020 Elections have posited that bearing this in mind, GECOM is operating out of its jurisdiction by examining the Coalition’s claims.
Shuman noted that requesting immigration records would prove almost futile, as he stated that, “The boundaries of Guyana are so porous that you can actually land in Brazil and take a car and drive over without ever having your passport stamped, and I know because I have gone in and out of Brazil. You could do the same thing in Venezuela and Suriname. So to ask for verification, there is a whole plethora of things absent in that scenario.”
“To compound the futility of the request”, Shuman said that Winston Felix, the Minister responsible for Citizenship and Commissioner James “have both shown bias”.
Furthermore, Shuman said to the press, I remember the Chair making an assertion about “He who asserts must prove”. I think what Madam Chair has implied by her communication from the 22nd of May is that is “He who asserts must come to me to prove”, because basically, if we have 200,000 allegations, does that mean now that we ask the Guyana Elections Commission to prove it? That seems to be the direction that the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission is going.”
Instead of examining the “unsubstantiated allegations of the Coalition,” Shuman wants an investigation into Region Four Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo, who is accused of inflating the votes for the APNU+AFC, and deducted from the PPP/C, as reported on extensively by this publication.
“If you are looking for wrong doing also, what we have seen in this tabulation centre is that Mingo’s numbers in themselves were completely flawed, inflated. Yet there has been no attempt made to address that issue—the fraudulent declaration by Mr. Mingo. We are curious to know if Madam Chair is going to ask the police to conduct a criminal investigation into the conduct of Mr. Mingo, and whoever else his cohorts may be. Once again, this is a very slippery slope that we are embarking upon,” he said.
With the aim of seeking clarity the LJP and A New United Guyana (ANUG), Change Guyana (CG) and The New Movement (TMN) have jointly requested a meeting with the GECOM Chair and the Commission to discuss these burning issues.
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