Updated: CARICOM recount shows elections reflect the will of the people

Last Updated on Monday, 15 June 2020, 14:29 by Denis Chabrol

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team that scrutinised the recount of the more than 460,000 valid votes cast says the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections reflected the choice of the electorate in who should run the affairs of Guyana for the next five years.

“Overall, while we acknowledge that there were some defects in the recount of the March 2, 2020 votes cast for the general and regional elections in Guyana, the Team did not witness anything which would render the recount and by extension the casting of the ballot  on March 2 so grievously deficient procedurally or technically (despite some irregularities) or sufficiently deficient to have thwarted the will of the people and consequently preventing the election results and its declaration by GECOM from from reflecting the will of the voters,” the team said.

The report made it clear that the results from the recount should be used by GECOM to declare the results of the elections that pitted the country’s two major political parties – the People’s National Congress Reform led coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – against each other.

“Despite our concerns, nothing that we witnessed warrants a challenge to the inescapable conclusion that the recount results are acceptable and should constitute the basis for the declaration of the results of the March 2, 2020 elections. Any aggrieved political party has been afforded the right to seek redress before the courts in the form of an election petition,” the report states.

Up to Sunday, the President appeared adamant that the PPP had engineered widespread electoral fraud by using a padded voters’ list.  Based on the recount of the 460,352 valid votes cast, APNU+AFC got 217,920 and the PPP 233,336. At the same time, he recalled calling for a CARICOM-scrutinised recount to determine whether there was fraud. “I participated in a process to find out whether there was fraud voting and I din’t think you could have asked a Head of State to do more,” he said. He added that operationally , legally and politically, he said the fraudulent nature was to have been determined by GECOM and the CARICOM recount.

If Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield’s initial report, which mirrors APNU+AFC’s concerns, is anything to go by, it would mean the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would get  56,627 votes and A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) will get 125,010 and the remainder going to several small parties.

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, but Lowenfield’s extraction of votes not affected gives the trio a total of 1,650. LJP got no votes in Regions One and Four in the CEO’s figures.

President  David Granger said the Lowenfield and CARICOM reports should be considered by GECOM. “I expect that those numbers will be taken into consideration in the observation report , both at the level of the Chief Elections Officer and the observation by CARICOM and other people who have been observing,” he said.

Granger accused the PPP of “flaking off” votes across the country by using a bloated voters’ list of more than 600,000 instead of embarking on a “grand larceny”.  The APNU+AFC presidential candidate said observers were unaware of how people rigged the elections on polling day. “That is the sort of thing that happens outside of the purview, outside of the vision of the observer mission. They don’t know what goes on ij some of the backdams and backstreets of this country. That is part of the problems with observer missions. They cannot check up to the degree that inflated voters’ list, which we complained about from the start, which can do harm at the national level,” he said.