GECOM returns ballot boxes to headquarters from planned national recount centre

Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2020, 18:00 by Writer

A shipping container of ballots being returned to GECOM’s headquarters on 20th March, 2020.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Friday began returning shipping container loads of ballots to its headquarters at High and Cowan streets, Kingston, Georgetown, raising concerns that the law was being violated because political parties were not informed about the movement of the ballot boxes.

GECOM’s spokeswoman, Yolanda Warde did not respond to questions about the movement of the boxes posted by the media in a WhatsApp media group she created.

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, who followed the departure of the first two shipping containers from the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, bemoaned GECOM’s failure to obey the law that requires parties to be informed before the boxes are removed. “These containers, as many will out it, are the last hope for Guyana’s democracy and we cannot have these containers moved around like this by GECOM without the stakeholders, the political parties, informed about the movement of the containers,” he told reporters.

Ali said that at GECOM’s headquarters only one PPP representative is allowed to be inside GECOM to watch the containers 24 hours a day and with the likelihood that the small political parties would not be allowed by GECOM to do so, he expects them to camp outside the headquarters on Cowan Street from Friday night. “All the political parties don’t have agents in there to look at the containers on a twenty-four hour basis so I think what we’ll have to do is we’ll have to set up camps here on Cowan Street to be able to look at the containers to ensure that no one would interfere with those containers,” Ali added.

Party representatives said a total of seven containers were taken from the Arthur Chung Conference Centre back to GECOM’s headquarters where they were deposited last week for a now aborted Caribbean Community (Caricom)-supervised national recount. That recount has been stalled by a request for a judicial review by a candidate for A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change, Ulita Munroe, for GECOM’s decision to order a recount based on a request by President David Granger and endorsement by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

Now that the PPP, A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM) were Friday granted permission to join the judicial review proceedings as interested parties, Justice Franklyn Holder set next Wednesday for the start of arguments.

Meanwhile, the injunctions remain in effect and essentially block GECOM from recounting the votes or declaring the results of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections that can eventually lead to the swearing in of President David Granger for a second term.