By Shikema Dey
De facto President David Granger, during an encounter with the press on Wednesday, skirted questions concerning his selective reference to sections of the CARICOM Observer report during an exclusive interview with Benschop Radio earlier in the week.
Granger, in making his argument in support of GECOM CEO Keith Lowenfield’s latest submission of altered figures showing a Granger win, cited several recommendations made by the three-member CARICOM Scrutineering Team in their report. He, however, came under heavy criticisms by many who accused him of “cherry-picking” integral parts of the report, and disregarding those that stated that recount results reflected the will of the electorate.
For example, Granger had claimed in the Benschop interview that the report Lowenfield submitted to the GECOM Chair Claudette Singh took into account the “possibility of the contaminations” of the votes due to “anomalies and irregularities” in the March 2 electoral process that were made in the report done by the CARICOM team.
“If you view the recommendations of the CARICOM Team, you would see how serious this issue is…the team recommended an investigation into missing documents; it also recommended a total re-registration of all voters in Guyana,” Granger had claimed. The report stated, in contrast, however, that “while there were ‘instances of irregularities’, the majority of which were raised by Coalition party agents, the team does not view the irregularities identified, amounted to sufficient grounds to invalidate the tabulation of the votes at the recount and therefore these irregularities do not constitute sufficient grounds to challenge the integrity of the recount process.”
During the interview with Benschop, Granger had repeatedly stated that those who were citing sections of the report that came out in support of the recount “did not read the entire report”, advising that persons do so in order to arrive at an ‘accurate’ picture of what was said. As was carried in this paper’s reporting however, a full reading of the report directly contradicts Granger’s conclusions that the report vindicated Lowenfield’s actions and his support of Lowenfield’s actions.
Asked to respond to these very criticisms after the appointment and promotion ceremony of acting Guyana Defence Force Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess, Granger simply stated that the excerpts he presented in support of Lowenfield are exactly what were stated in the CARICOM report: “My response is that every word I issued came from the recommendations of the CARICOM report. If you want you can double check, the recommendations of the CARICOM report and you will see my words are faithfully represented there. Those words, didn’t come from the sky, they are in the recommendations.”
The CARICOM team had said, in its report, that it viewed the exercise undertaken by the Granger coalition agents as “a fishing expedition” to gather data for an elections petition. It also called the exercise an “abuse of the system.” The CARICOM team also wrote that “We found no intentional miscounting of the ballots which would constitute an election fraud necessitating further action…Nothing that we witnessed warrants a challenge to the inescapable conclusion that the recount results are acceptable and should constitute the basis of the declaration of the results of the March 02, 2020 elections.”
Granger, in the Benschop interview, had claimed that CARICOM report “recommends that the structure of the Election Commission be changed, the present structure will not work and it finally recommended that given all the irregularities which occurred during the period of the electoral cycle, we highly recommend that a political audit be conducted in the operations.”
What the CARICOM report said was, “While GECOM is described as an independent body, it is undoubtedly a political Commission, and herein lies most of the problems, the paralysis, and the factionalism experienced by that body. The level of internal discord which is acutely manifested in the public posturing of individual Commissioners is the norm in Guyana and unfortunately was on full and ugly display in the 2020 elections and its aftermath.”
The President’s representation of select aspect of the CARICOM report is in direct conflict with the overall conclusion made by the CARCIOM team, which was, “While we acknowledge that there were some defects in the recount of the March 2, 2020 votes cast for the General and Regional elections in Guyana, the team did not witness anything which would render the recount and by extension the casting of the ballots on March 2, so grievously deficient procedurally or technically, (despite some irregularities), or sufficiently deficient to have thwarted the will of the people and consequently preventing the election results and its declaration by GECOM from reflecting the will of voters.”
Reminded of the excerpt above, the President was asked once again to respond specifically to the question of whether he read the entire report – he again failed to give a direct answer, repeating only that he read from the recommendations of the report.
“I quoted from the recommendations of the CARICOM observer team,” he said “and my words are accurately reflected in those recommendations, I don’t know if you are asking a question outside of that but as far as I am concerned, the report of the tabulation is only one aspect of the report which the CEO needs to submit to the Commission.”
He added that “The CEO has the responsibility to make note of the legitimate observations which have been made, and present those observations to the Commission but as far as my citation is concerned, I read from the recommendations of the CARICOM team.”
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