by Zena Henry and Chevy Devonish
The A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition hopes the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM will scrap a partial vote recount in several districts because of questions surrounding the legality of doing so.
Demerara Waves Online News could not immediately confirm with senior GECOM officials whether they would give into the coalition’s demand for the recount to be stopped.
APNU+AFC presidential candidate, David Granger and his delegation emerged from a meeting with the full seven-member Commission, saying they demanded that the recount be stopped because the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) provided no reason to the commission for its request.
The recount has begun in Regions One, Two and Eight after what a senior GECOM official said was in accordance with the law.
Coalition Executive members Raphael Trotman as and Basil Williams pointed out that the body was told that it was the Presiding Officer who must agree to a recount if such is requested by a party authorised to make such a request. However, Section 88 of the Act says that it is the Returning Officer who must be satisfied that a request for a recount is reasonable.
Trotman further stated that none of the letters sent to the officers in the various reasons contained a reason the requests were made even though such reasons are required by law.
“The Chief Elections Officer (CEO) read to us the letters from the PPP/C…there were two letters and none of them contained a reason why. Apparently it was an instruction because based on a request GECOM started to act,” Trotman explained while highlighting yet another anomaly in the procedure undertaken in relation to authorising the recounts.
Though the Act says that it is the Returning Officer who must make the decision, “GECOM conceded to us that they triggered the process and not the Returning Officer and that they are now going to review what it is they have done because that should have been the sole prerogative of the Returning Officer but they took the decision,” said Trotman.
It is unclear how these revelations will affect the requests made by the PPP/C for partial recounts in the other regions/districts.
Granger also said his delegation also urged the elections management authority to announce the more than 90 percent of results processed from most of the 2,229 statements of poll to avoid the country from moving closer to the brink of unrest due to the prolonged delay in doing so. “The situation in the country is becoming dangerous day by day and the longer it took to make a declaration and bring this process to an end the more likely we were to move to the edge of disorder and in that regard we urged the Guyana Elections Commission to speed up the process so that we can have an early declaration,” Granger told reporters.
Prior to the meeting, GECOM had already issued an advisory, saying that the delivery of results has now been pushed back from 6 PM to 9PM Wednesday.
Having 94 percent of the votes already counted, “… tells us that they have a very good idea who won. They know; let me put it like that. I’m moving from the realm of idea to they know who has won and who has not won.”
Trotman clarified that GECOM would have commenced the recount process on a mere, “demand or request.” According to him the information sent to GECOM by the PPP says, “we request a recount on these box… there is no reason given.” He added that despite the claims made by the PPP about multi-voting and fear tactics against its supporters and members, none of it accompanied the request for a recount.
He said that the request is similar to an application being made to the Court where reasons for a request must be made and “GECOM performs what we call in law a quasi or semi-judicial function, so it (request) should have been based on some reasonableness or some grounds.”
The Coalition executive noted also that the Coalition is also of the opinion that the 24 hour window which deals with the legality of the request has already elapsed. Basil Williams added also that, “The law has not been triggered for a recount, that can only be done by a public declaration by the Returning Officer and there has been no declaration by any Returning Officer.” That is why we are saying it is premature, and we have asked them to cease all recounts and they are discussing whether they should, Williams noted.
Trotman noted however that the tabulation to determine the number of seats won has not been completed, but the Coalition has hit the 190,000 mark, “so we are convinced that we have won with a clear majority.”
Williams opined, “The fact that they (PPP) are asking for a recount is that they are really signaling to the nation that they know they have lost the election.”
Additional reporting by Denis Chabrol