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APNU+AFC, PPP at loggerheads over “valid votes” in Chief Elections Officer’s report

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 June 2020, 10:18 by Denis Chabrol

A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) are haggling with each other over what should be the valid votes following Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield’s report to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Claudette Singh.

PPP executive member, Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall has already signaled that legal action would be taken if the seven-member commission agrees with Lowenfield that a mere 185,302 votes of the 460,352 are not tainted by impersonation and other irregularities and so cannot satisfy the criteria of impartiality, fairness and compliance in keeping with the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act.

“He will get a rude awakening because this stunt, this stunt will not succeed. It will not succeed. The Elections Commission has a duty to disregard every irrelevant material that Lowenfield has placed before it,” Nandlall said.

Nandlall was, however, cautiously optimistic that the seven-member commission would disregard the Chief Elections Officer’s report that effectively gives the PPP  56,627 votes and APNU+AFC 125,010 with control of five each of the 10 administrative regions.

“Fortunately, Lowenfield has tabulated the results of the recount in two separate pages tabulation for the regional votes and tabulation for the national votes – and he has totalled them accurately in accordance with the recount. GECOM is bound only to accept that and to reject every other facet of Lowenfield’s perversity,” Nandlall said.

The general and regional tabulations from the recount are each described as “total valid votes cast.” Lowenfield was careful not say whether the votes he has extracted were valid or invalid.

Castigating the PPP for continuing its “vicious campaign of misinformation, lies and propaganda on the citizens of Guyana, the diplomatic corps, CARICOM and other parties internationally,” APNU+AFC quotes the Representation of the People Act which addresses the Ascertainment of Election Results and Article 96 of the Constitution, the CEO is duly empowered to “calculate the total valid votes of electors cast and thereupon ascertain the results”.

“This therefore means to discover with certainty as through examination or experimentation. This is what was done. This was, the very purpose of the recount process,” APNU+AFC said, adding that the “importance of the credibility of the electoral process in arriving at the valid votes cast is absolutely paramount.”

In a ringing endorsement of the Chief Elections Officer and his report, the coalition said it “is reprehensible and appalling that the PPP irresponsibly continues its campaign to malign Mr. Lowenfield who has acted within the ambit of the law, as he is required to do, and is in strict compliance with the Gazetted Order.”

“The CEO in his report, as he is obliged to do, considered the numerous fraudulent discoveries contained in the painstakingly detailed observation reports as outlined by the Gazetted Order, which was agreed to by both the APNU+AFC Coalition and the opposition PPP,” APNU+AFC said.

The APNU+AFC Coalition  strongly condemned the PPP’s reckless remarks, saying it belittles and denigrates the labours and sacrifices of the CEO and the hardworking staff of GECOM Secretariat, the political parties’ agents, observers and all other stakeholders who worked tirelessly to establish a credible process for the conduct of elections on March 2nd 2020 and the Recount which commenced on May 6th 2020.

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.