As lawyers for the political parties contemplate whether they will appeal a decision on the issue of valid votes to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the governing A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) on Monday welcomed the local decision.
“The Court of Appeal has today, in its judgment, confirmed the position of the APNU+AFC Coalition that the determination of a final and credible count as contemplated by Order No. 60 of 2020 does not mean a mere numerical tabulation of votes but an assessment of the credibility of votes as contemplated by Order No. 60 of 2020,” the coalition said in a statement issued less than an hour after the judgement.
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) executive member and Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall declined to immediately comment on the case, but a lawyer closely linked to that political party said he would not be surprised if the case heads to the CCJ.
The Guyana Court of Appeal granted a stay of its decision for three days to allow the lawyers to contemplate their next move.
An opposition-connected lawyer believed that Monday’s decision by the Guyana Court of Appeal gives the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield the right to decide what are valid votes. His initial report to the seven-member Guyana Elections Commission describes tabulations of general and regional votes as “valid votes cast.” Those tabulations account for 460,000 votes, while Lowenfield’s observation reports for the 10 electoral districts suggest that a mere 185,000 votes are not tarnished by alleged voter impersonation and other irregularities.
APNU+AFC said the words “more votes cast” in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana therefore means, without any doubt, “more valid and credible votes cast” within the meaning of Order No. 60 of 2020 and does not mean a mere numerical tabulation of votes but an assessment of the credibility and validity of votes as contemplated by Order No. 60 of 2020.
The APNU+AFC said, from the inception of this process maintained that elections cannot be arbitrary and results cannot be based on fraudulent and illegitimate votes. Elections with proven illegitimate and ‘defective’ votes bring into question the credibility of those votes and cannot be foisted upon the people of Guyana. Illegitimate votes, cannot be included in the consideration of ‘valid votes’ to determine a credible outcome.
The coalition said the recount process clearly proved that tens of thousands of votes cannot be deemed as credible or valid having been affected by instances of fraud, discrepancies and anomalies. APNU+AFC restated that there were numerous instances of voter impersonation (dead persons and migrated persons registered as having voted), missing ballots, unstamped ballots, missing poll books, missing oaths of identity and unsigned oaths of identity, more ballots that electors found in ballot boxes among other grave issues.
The judgment of the Court of Appeal, the coalition said, vindicates the position of APNU+AFC Coalition which it has maintained throughout. The APNU+AFC Coalition now calls on the Guyana Elections Commission to do its duty and complete its work to ensure that credible results for the March 2nd elections are declared based on the valid votes cast.