GECOM pushes back meetings to make way for Court of Appeal hearing

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2020, 16:07 by Denis Chabrol

GECOM Chairman Claudette Singh flanked by (left to right) PPP-aligned election commissioners Robeson Benn, Bibi Shadick, and Sase Gunraj as wells as pro-coalition commissioners Charles Corbin, Vincent Alexander and Desmond Trotman.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has pushed back future meetings now that the Guyana Court of Appeal has set Friday to hear a case filed by private citizen whether that election management body must first decide on a “final credible count” of the votes cast at the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

Eslyn David  is asking that the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield be prevented from submitting that report to the GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh without  “determining the final credible count and or the credibility” of the polls in keeping with the national vote recount orders.

After receiving a notice of motion, Lowenfield did not submit his report.

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) election commissioners, Attorneys-at-Law Bibi Shadick and Sase Gunraj said in the absence of the Chief Elections Officer’s report, the Commission could formally declare the results. “There are laws to do whatever has to do. We will follow the law. The nation can’t be waiting on the likes of Lowenfield and them. Are we crazy? Do we look crazy. This is country is hurting and bleeding and the likes of Lowenfield is going to stop this whole thing?,” she said.

They had hoped to return on Friday to craft the next steps for the commission to possibly make a declaration with the assistance of another statutory officer, Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers.

GECOM said a commission meeting scheduled for Friday has been cancelled because the Guyana Court of Appeal is Friday afternoon at 1:30 expected to hear a case filed by David.

Thursday’s meeting did not have sufficient representatives to meet and make decisions  even without a report of the election results by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield.

The meeting did not have a quorum because only one pro-coalition Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, was present. Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman were absent.  Shadick related that “Mr Corbin says he fell ill and Mr. Trotman says he was threatened and he was trying to security and he is trying to get security and he can’t get,” she said.

GECOM’s rules of procedure state that in order for there to be a quorum, at least two commissioners each from both sides must be present.

Spokeswoman for GECOM, Yolanda Ward said Lowenfield did not submit his report to the GECOM Chairman because he was served with a notice of motion.

“The Notice was served on the CEO before 13:00 hrs (deadline for submission of report). The Notice restraints the CEO from ‘complying with the directions of Chairperson’ and as a consequence a report was not submitted,”  Ward said.

Guyana’s constitution  states that the Court of Appeal has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President insofar as that question depends upon the qualification of any person for an election or the interpretation of this  Constitution and any decision of that court under this paragraph shall be final.

President David Granger has publicly committed to accepting “any” and “whatever” declaration is made by the GECOM Chairman.

Lowenfield has indicated in an initial report to the Chairman that votes not affected by anomalies/irregularities and voter impersonation amount to  185,302 votes.  By his calculation, the 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.

This in stark contrast to the recount that shows that of the 460,352 valid votes cast, APNU+AFC got 217,920 and the PPP 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, 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.

APNU+AFC Election Agent, Joseph Harmon again stressed that the Chief Elections Officer must only use untainted votes. “We are saying that the Chief Elections Officer, given his own report to the commission and the subsequent request of the Chairman, must use only the votes that had all supporting statutory documents in the ballot boxes when they were recounted,” Harmon said.