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GECOM agrees to recall CARICOM team to “validate” recount; Chief Elections Officer to craft plan

Last Updated on Monday, 6 April 2020, 18:03 by Writer

The seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has agreed that a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) high-level team should return to “validate” the recount of last month’s general election votes, even as the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield prepares a recount plan, elections commissioner Vincent Alexander said Monday.

“We have decided today that our preference in terms of an external body to give some validation, that it’s CARICOM,” Alexander told reporters.

Speaking with the media after a more than three-hour commission meeting, he virtually ruled out any other observer mission coming to witness the recount of the votes of the March 2, 2020 polls. “In terms of validation, the only body that at this time we’ll be referencing is CARICOM for validation purposes… The others were never for validation. The others were observers. CARICOM came into the process with a particular role; that role is a modified form that we are retaining. The others were never under consideration for validation purposes. They are observers,” he said.

But, People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated Elections Commissioner, Sase Gunraj gave a slightly different account, saying the commission decided to ask observers to indicate whether they would like to come to observe the process. On the issue of CARICOM, he expected that Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque would be asked to reengage the team. “I believe that we need to have some form of finality on our end as to when we’ll begin to pass that information on to them ,” Gunraj added.

Alexander said CARICOM would be informed “soonest” that the team would be required back in Georgetown.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Keith Rowley on Monday told a news conference in Port-of-Spain that his government would be willing to recommend to CARICOM that the high-level team return to Georgetown to scrutinise the recount process.

Alexander and Gunraj confirmed that Lowenfield has been tasked with crafting a plan for the recount now that several questions and clarifications were addressed at Monday’s meeting.

Gunraj said the commission provided guidance to the Chief Elections Officer on a range of operational issues that he could provide a plan to the Commission on Wednesday. Issues that Lowenfield has to address include the conduct of the recount, the role of the commission in resolving disputes, reporting mechanism, and recording results from the recount. “We went through every one of the concerns of the CEO and attempted as best as we could to provide as much clarity to him,” Gunraj said.

He said no final decision has been taken on any of the several proposals for a recount whether concerning votes only or votes and other material.

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