GECOM must use recount to declare election results; objections are for a High Court elections petition

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 May 2020, 16:53 by Denis Chabrol

Former House Speaker, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran on Sunday said his A New and United Guyana (ANUG) political party does not believe that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) can revert to the first count based on the 10 declarations by the 10 Returning Officers.

He reasons that if GECOM says that based on allegations that people voted in the names of deceased people and emigrants and so no declaration can be made based on the recount, then it will be equally untenable for the Commission to use the 10 declarations.

“It is not possible for GECOM to order a recount under the Election Laws Amendment Act and at the end of the process to abandon a declaration of that recount and then return to the count and issue a declaration based on the report which has been made to GECOM by the Chief Elections Officer in relation to his invitation to make a declaration,” he told a news briefing after visiting the recount being conducted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC)

On the question of scrapping the elections, Ramkarran said a declaration by the Commission was now mandatory because Parliament has been already dissolved and cannot be recalled. After his tour, which included a conversation with the GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, he expressed optimism that the Commission would be able to establish two more counting stations this week.

He said GECOM is fully empowered to conduct the recount under Article 163 of Guyana’s Constitution and Section 22 of the Election Law Amendment Act as well as the Representation of the People Act.

“There is no question about the legality of a recount,” he said.

Ramkarran said there is no provision in the electoral laws for impersonation and the validity of elections can be challenged only through an elections petition.

He said GECOM is responsible for holding free and fair based on the procedures in the Representation of the People Act. Ramkarran, who had fought several election petitions while he had been a member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), said GECOM should not have invited objections to ballots cast at the more than 2,339 polling stations.

They should not have accepted these objections from then beginning. They should shave said record your objections and take them to the election petition court,” he said.

GECOM is not a trial court designed as institution to collect and determine the evidence. “The commission is not constructed to accommodate a trial, to accommodate an investigatory process to determine whether those allegations are true or not,” he said.

Executive Member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall  was Sunday expected to dispatch a letter to the GECOM Chairman, expressing concern about her invitation to A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) to submit evidence mainly about the deceased and emigrants.