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CARICOM-supervised national vote recount likely begins Monday

The Caricom team entering the GECOM headquarters for a crucial meeting to prepare for their supervision of the national recount of votes cast in the 2020 general and regional elections.

The national recount of votes in Guyana’s general elections, under the supervision of a Caribbean Community (Caricom) team is expected to begin on Monday now that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the regional organisation settled on the terms of reference, election commissioners said late Sunday night.

One of the pro-government commissioners, Vincent Alexander said the Caricom recount supervision team’s suggestion that they begin recounting Region Four first was accepted. “Their argument was ‘it is the largest’ reason and, therefore, when they are fresh, they should do largest first and as a consequence of that logic, we are not going to necessarily follow the number sequence of the regions,” he told reporters shortly after GECOM met with the regional team.

The Caricom team arrived at GECOM at 7:35pm and left at 9:16pm.

Alexander said the Caricom team would be conducting a visit Monday morning to the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown, where the recount would be conducted.

He said five recounts would be conducted simultaneously, each under the supervision of one of the members of the Caricom team, with votes from the largest regions to be conducted first. Mr Alexander said political parties, GECOM and Caricom would have representatives for each ballot box. “The processes will be equal across the boxes,” he said.

As regards the security of the ballot boxes, Alexander said a decision was taken for representatives of the contesting political parties to watch the shipping containers at the GECOM headquarters in Kingston, Georgetown, overnight. He said the counts would be recorded on documents that are almost identical to Statements of Poll.

One of the three Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated elections commissioners, Sase Gunraj added that, “we are looking at a location that is secure, a location that offers the logistic and perhaps comfort,” he said.

Gunraj added that a “framework” for the recount that was proposed by Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield was amended and further changed based on inputs from the Caricom team that includes chief elections officers from Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.

No concrete decision was taken on whether to release the results as they become available or at the end of the exercise which could last several days.

The Independent High-Level Mission are Ms Angela Taylor, Chief Electoral Officer of Barbados; Mr Anthony Boatswain, former Finance Minister of Grenada; Ms Francine Baron, Chair of the Caricom Team and former Attorney General and Foreign Minister of Dominica; Ms Fern Nacis-Scope, Chief Elections Officer of Trinidad and Tobago, and Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies.

The GECOM-Caricom collaboration comes at the request of President David Granger for the regional body to dispatch a team to conduct a total recount of the nation’s votes cast at the March 2, 2020 general elections following widespread local and international outcry and threats of sanctions from major western nations and international observers.

Caricom last intervened in settling an electoral dispute in Guyana in 1997. After the declaration had been made, a Caricom audit team had been dispatched to count the ballots which had confirmed a victory for the Opposition PPP.