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APNU+AFC wants irregularities removed or election scrapped; PPP says GECOM has no legal power to do so

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2020, 20:36 by Denis Chabrol

Aubrey Norton

The incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) wants the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to validate some ballots or scrap the election altogether, but the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Friday insisted that that and other suggestions are not possible under the constitutional and law.

“GECOM has the authority to investigate and to deal with the irregularities, either remove the irregularities and have a declaration or declare, in keeping with the order, that these elections are null and void because they are not credible,” said People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) executive member, Aubrey Norton, on Prime Time Caribbean.  The PNCR is the largest of the coalition partners.

But PPP General Secretary , Bharrat Jagdeo, in maintaining that the only route an aggrieved political party has is filing an election petition in court, said GECOM could not function as a court of law. There is no provision in the Constitution or in our laws to say that GECOM can constitute itself into a court of law to hear complaints by contesting parties,” he said. Jagdeo restated that the election results could be challenged through an elections petition.

Further, the former President and later Opposition Leader, said GECOM could not declare an election null and void.

“There is no provision in our constitution to say that GECOM has any authority to void an election, annul it or to call for fresh elections,” Jagdeo said on his PPP Facebook page. Jagdeo also said the Constitution or the law does not allow for the Chancellor of the Judiciary to intervene and impose a power-sharing arrangement at this stage.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

The Recount Order provides for the seven-member GECOM, which is almost evenly split along party lines, to first decide whether the recount data should be used by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield to formulate a report for the said commission to certify and declare the final results of the March 2, 2020 elections.

Of the 460,352 valid votes cast, the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has won 217,920 and the People’s Progressive Party 233,336. The three ‘joinder’ parties- A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM) got a total of 5,214‬ votes.

The APNU+AFC has said the data from GECOM’s observation reports show that there were 7,929 instances of irregularities “which directly affect the validity of 257,173 votes.  The coalition cites substitute voting in the names of deceased and people overseas, missing poll books, extra ballots, rejected ballots and other documents that are required to reconcile ballots with votes.