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APNU+AFC favours legal recount to stave off international sanctions

APNU General Secretary, Joseph Harmon and AFC Chairman, Raphael Trotman.

Wary of threats of international sanctions over electoral fraud, Guyana’s incumbent coalition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) on Thursday said a recount of the votes cast in general elections earlier this month or an elections petition could settle concerns and forestall international sanctions.

APNU+AFC campaign manager, Joseph Harmon also referred to an elections petition-related audit as one other means of addressing intensified international threats—mainly by the United States and Britain—should a new government be sworn in based on non-credible results.

“We would like to see at the end of this a process that is deemed to be credible. As I said, whatever is within the law for that to occur, we would support that. We would like to see a credible process,” said Harmon who is the APNU General Secretary.

The US, Britain, Canada, France, the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Commonwealth have all cautioned against a new government being sworn in on the basis of questionable election results.

Harmon said the coalition would back calls for a recount once it is a legal step, even as the country awaits a High Court decision on a judicial review requested by APNU+AFC candidate Ulita Moore.

Harmon appeared to endorse Moore’s call in court papers already filed that the Elections Commission should be allowed to consider a report by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on the ten regional and national declarations in order to certify APNU+AFC the winner of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. “We believe that we have won these elections. We believe that the figures are there; they have been there since the 14th of March and, therefore, it is that this is what will avert these serious sanctions, I am sure that the President and the parties that comprise the APNU+AFC would be prepared to look at that carefully and give some consideration to it,” he said.

Harmon said previous efforts for a Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-supervised recount that was endorsed by President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, were derailed after the high-level regional supervisory team asked that their role be gazetted. “All of this was triggered by a requirement which they (CARICOM team) made asking for a gazetted order before they could have started to work…It was not just about the agreement between President Granger and Mr. Jagdeo. It was about them feeling that they needed a level of protection and that could only come from an order which was gazetted so it was not we doing anything, the APNU doing anything, the PPP doing anything or any other party doing anything. This was a request made by the team itself,” Harmon said.

Harmon rejected assertions by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that APNU+AFC was backing Moore’s request for the judicial review but he conceded that the coalition became a party to the case as had the PPP and the several small political parties.

AFC Chairman, Raphael Trotman recalled that directives had trickled down from the top politicians to the six GECOM Commissioners to favourably consider a recount. “At the level of the commissioners, both sides committed to briefing their commissioners…saying that this process must proceed. You are to work out how it is to be done,” he said.