By Kemol King
Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh yesterday ordered Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield to submit a report of the recount results by 2 pm today, under the legal procedure leading to a declaration.
The recount shows the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) to have attained 233,336 valid votes, a lead of 15,416 votes ahead of the APNU+AFC coalition’s 217,920 valid votes.
The Chair qualified her request for the recount figures, by saying that they should be the “valid votes counted in the National Recount” – not by his own metric – but “as per Certificates of Recount generated” from the recount exercise.
A letter of this nature was addressed to Lowenfield previously on June 16 for a submission deadline of June 18, and he had disregarded it. His reason for doing so, as expressed in a public letter, is that he has duties to execute as a constitutional officer.
This time around, Justice Singh reminded Lowenfield that as CEO, Section 18 of the Election Laws Act No 15 of 2000 stipulates that he is subject to the direction and control of the Commission.
The Commission was expected to meet yesterday, but that meeting was postponed to today, as Government nominated Commissioners reportedly expressed that they needed more time to study the written judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), passed down on Wednesday.
The Court had ruled that, in the appeal of the recount case which had been adjudicated by Guyana’s Appeal Court, the Kingston Court’s judgment was unlawful as it did not have the jurisdiction. The Appeal Court’s ruling had moved Lowenfield, in his disregard for the Chair’s direction, to submit a report intending to invalidate 115,844 votes. The move sought to hand a false victory to APNU+AFC. As a consequence of the CCJ’s striking down of the Appeal Court’s ruling, Lowenfield’s then report was invalidated, and the CCJ said that it was for GECOM to direct Lowenfield to present the results of the recount, in accordance with the direction of the GECOM Chair.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Opposition nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj notified the public of the postponement to today.
“Hasn’t this country and its people suffered enough?” Gunraj asked, alluding to the fact that the electoral process has dragged on four months.
After an uproar on social media over the postponement, Government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander took to Facebook, commenting on a post to say that the document of the CCJ’s judgment was only delivered at 12:30 pm, and that persons complaining are doing so out of ignorance.
The CCJ’s judgment had been made available on its website and circulated online shortly after the judgment was handed down on Wednesday.
The Court, in its ruling, noted how long the electoral process has lasted and that the country has gone without a Parliament for well over a year. It said that no one in Guyana would regard this state of affairs as satisfactory and expressed the fervent hope that there would quickly be a peaceable restoration of normalcy.
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