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GECOM considers national recount of votes cast

Caricom Chairperson, Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley flanked by (left to right) the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; the Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell; the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley and the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is considering an agreement by Guyana’s two major political leaders for a total national recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general elections under the supervision of a Caribbean Community (Caricom) team.

“The proposition is for a national recount,” Election Commissioner, Vincent Alexander told reporters.

Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque said Caricom Chairperson, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados has asked him to clarify her earlier statement: “CARICOM Team to supervise the Guyana Elections recount.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, His Excellency President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Mr Bharrat Jagdeo had agreed to a recount of all Regions and not just Region 4,” La Rocque said.

He said the proposed recount of votes to be supervised by a Caricom mission, was brought to the attention of the seven-member GECOM on Saturday and Caricom has been asked to provide some clarifications.

GECOM said the Region Four Regional Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo refused requests for recounts because none of the parties adhered to the statutory timeline to apply for the appointment of counting agents. GECOM said in this regard, no counting agent was duly appointed for any parties and only a counting agent can request a recount.

Election Commissioner Alexander said although the Returning Officer rejected requests for recounts, the seven-member commission would make decisions to cater for President Granger’s request for Caricom to conduct the recount. Caricom Chairman, Mia Mottley said she has since spoken with Jagdeo and he and Granger have agreed to accept the results of a “fair and transparent” count. “He (Returning Officer) has a statutory function but I think this matter is probably now at another level and it becomes a question of the commission which has ultimately responsibility for the work of GECOM to give consideration to the matter in the context of the evolving controversy,” Alexander said.

Talk of a national recount surfaced earlier Saturday when A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) said it would ask for recounts in the other nine districts once there is a recount in Region Four which has been dogged by a more-than-week-long controversy over the procedure to be used for tabulation.

“In the event any recount is granted for region four, we intend to pursue our application for recounts in regions one to ten,” APNU+AFC co-campaign manager, Joseph Harmon said in a statement.

Opposition Leader Jagdeo has already said that he would not object to recounts in the other nine regions, several of which are APNU+AFC strongholds. “Other regions have been declared so we have gone past the statutory period for which to request a recount. But let me tell you something- my position is that should APNU want a recount in any part of this country although we have gone past that statutory period for a request for a recount, the People’s Progressive Party will accede to their request because we have a duty to allow people’s votes to be counted and, therefore, if that is a verification that APNU wants for some areas, that’s fine, let’s give them the verification and the comfort,” Jagdeo has said.

Harmon made known the coalition’s position about two hours after Caricom Chairperson Mottley announced that President Granger asked her to send a team to oversee a recount of the votes cast in region four.

That move follows a controversy over the transparency and credibility of the tabulation process for the votes cast in Region Four. Returning Officer for Region Four, Clairmointh Mingo Friday night declared that APNU+AFC won 136,057 and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) 77,231 in the general elections, while the regional elections saw APNU+AFC getting 130,289 and the PPP 74,827.

The PPP objected to the speed at which the tabulation process had been conducted and the quality of the projected images of the Statements of Poll.