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GECOM awaiting parties before gazetting election results

GECOM’s Headquarters, Cowan and High Streets, Kingston.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) it yet to publish the results of  Elections 2015 in the Official Gazette despite having declared the final results of these elections last Saturday.

From several indications the results will not be ‘Gazetted’ before another week, or more, has passed.

This does not sit well with the now-opposition Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) which is desirous of obtaining copies of the Statements of Polls (SOPs) as well as the tally sheets used by GECOM to arrive at final result it declared last Saturday.

The opposition also wants “a breakdown of the results from each polling division or ballot box.”In a statement released on Tuesday the party said “we have made a request in writing,” but lamented that “to date we have received no reply to our request.”

“The information which we have requested should have been made public contemporaneous with the declaration of the result,” says the PPP/C. The party expressed fears that “this delay is another machination which is being used to alter the SOPs and tally Tally Sheets, as a result of the discrepancies which we have identified and in the face of public pronouncement that we will launch a legal challenge to these elections.”

However, GECOM Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, says it is the fault of the political parties that the information is yet to be published.

During a telephone interphone interview with this news outlet he explained that the law requires the PPP/C and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change (AFC) to submit certain information before the results of Elections 2015 is gazetted.

The relevant legislation in this regard is Section 99 (a) – (d) of the Representation of the People Act.

The provision reads: “As soon as possible, but not later than fifteen days after election days the Commission shall publicly declare the results of the election and shall cause to be published in the Gazette a notification thereof, specifying…the number of votes cast for each list of candidates; the number of rejected ballot papers; the number of seats allocated to each list of candidates; and the names of persons who, as a result of the election, have become members of the National Assembly.”

According to Lowenfield, the final criteria can only be satisfied once the political parties which won seats in the National Assembly furnish him with the names of the persons who will serve as their MPs.

The APNU + AFC coalition won 33 of the National Assembly’s 65 seats while the PPP/C Party won 32. Of the 33 seats which went to the coalition the 12 will go to the AFC, as per the Cummingsburg Accord – the agreement which established the coalition.

On Wednesday, Alliance for Change (AFC) General Secretary, David Patterson, said the AFC is still deliberating on who will fill its seats. He said though, that the process should be completed in less than 14 days. 

On Wednesday, Patterson became Guyana’s sworn Minister of Public Infrastructure, while fellow AFC member Kathy Hughes was sworn-in as Minister of Tourism. It is thus safe to conclude that they will be among the AFC’s MPs in the National Assembly. The coalition has also announced that AFC Executive Member Khemraj Ramjattan is to become Minister of Home Affairs. He too, it is safe to assume, will fill one of the AFC’s seats.

Meanwhile, President David Granger, just moments after being sworn-on last Saturday, said the APNU would finalise its own list in a fortnight. Yesterday several APNU members were sworn in as Ministers and Junior Ministers. These persons include Carl Greenidge, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Jordan, Minister of Public Health, Rupert Roopnaraine, Minister of Education, and Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. Each of the noted ministers is likely to fill a seat for APNU, but the seats are not yet exhausted.

When contacted by Demerara Waves Online News yesterday, PPP/C General Secretary said that the party is yet to finalise the list of its MPs – to – be. “As soon as we are able to settle it we will let you know,” he said.

Nevertheless, the party is demanding “that GECOM furnish us with copies of these SOPs. Tally Sheets and a breakdown of results of each Polling Division or Ballot Box forthwith,” and warned that “the longer they take to do so the darker the clouds will become which loom over the integrity of the electoral machinery and indeed the results which is pronounced.”

Five days after Elections Day GECOM declared that the coalition won 207, 200 votes, while the PPP/C won 202, 669. These results gave the coalition 33 seats and the PPP/C 32. The party has argued that several anomalies bring into question the integrity of Elections 2015 and have vowed to take the matter to court.