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APNU+AFC ready to “respect” GECOM’s declaration- Ramjattan

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 June 2020, 23:02 by Denis Chabrol

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan and then Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

Prime Ministerial candidate for A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan said the governing coalition was ready to accept the declaration which is expected to show it was defeated at the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

“We’ll have to respect her decision. I have indicated that I certainly will; that’s my position and we all agree that we are going to respect her decision,” Ramjattan said.

APNU+AFC campaign manager, Joseph Harmon, in an effort to comfort supporters, preferred to await Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield’s response to Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Claudette Singh stating what are the “valid votes”. Harmon criticised Singh’s decision that essentially states that only a High Court, through an election petition, can probe irregularities and that GECOM has no constitutional power to scrap elections. “I believe that the Chairman gave a very convoluted decision this (Tuesday) afternoon which still has to be interpreted,” he said, while insisting that the national vote recount was aimed at finding out what are the valid votes.

Singh told Lowenfield to submit his report to her by 1 PM, Thursday, June 19, 2020.

Ramjattan added that GECOM was bound by the law to facilitate a smooth transition  and bring the electoral process to end. “The clarity that we have since indicated is  that we are bound by the constitutional entity and the GECOM …We are bound to by law and we are bound to  by the procedures,” he said.

“That constitutional entity is GECOM and if GECOM makes the declaration, whether it’s by majority 4-3 or if it is a majority of seven, whatever it is, we respect that and we move on as a country. There’ll be lots to say by all politicians but we’ll have to move on,” said Ramjattan who is the AFC’s leader.

Ramjattan, a well-known civil and criminal lawyer, recalled stating publicly that “we’ll have to bring this process to an end” and that “we have all agreed that we are going to respect her decision.” President David Granger is on record as saying that he would accept “any” and “whatever” decision that GECOM Chairman, Claudette Singh would make.

The AFC Leader made known his position in light of the decision by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh to ask the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield to use the recount data to declare the results of general and regional elections held more than three months ago.

Ramjattan said the APNU+AFC coalition was bound by law and procedures to make way for a smooth transition to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-led administration under the presidency of Dr. Irfaan Ali.

The AFC Leader said he had hoped that the GECOM Chairman would rule that the recount results were not valid and should have been annulled.

The GECOM Chairman cited sections of Guyana’s Constitution that state that the Commission cannot determine credibility of or invalidate an election.

“In this regard, GECOM could not have thereby clothed itself with jurisdiction to establish itself as a Court of Law to determine credibility of an election when Article 163 (1) stipulates that the High Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine the legality of an election.

Justice Singh also noted that the Commission cannot arrogate onto itself a jurisdiction to annul an election since no specific power was conferred on it under Article 162 (1) (b). A perusal of Articles 162 and 163 of the Constitution shows that the Articles clearly and sharply separate the functions of GECOM and the High Court respectively in matters of electoral process,” GECOM said in a statement.

Based on that, it appears that GECOM would declare the final and official election results based on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-supervised recount that shows that the PPP won the general and regional elections.

The recount shows that of the 460,352 valid votes cast, APNU+AFC got 217,920 and the PPP 233,336 and 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 Organisation of American States, Commonwealth, Carter Centre, and the team of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) scrutineers that observed the recount have called on GECOM to declare the election results based on the tabulation from that recount.

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