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Chief Elections Officer gives APNU+AFC 1 seat majority after removing 115,000 votes; OAS says courts being used to “stall” electoral process

Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield on Tuesday presented a report to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, giving A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) a 33 seat majority over the PPP  in what he termed “valid and credible votes.”

Overall, Lowenfield has removed 115,844  of the 460,352  valid votes cast based on “guidance from the Court of Appeal”  in its decision that more votes means more valid votes when one considers the gazetted recount order.

The Commission has not met to consider that report and late Tuesday the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) issued an interim order blocking GECOM from declaring the results of the March 2, 2020 polls until an appeal by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo and presidential candidate, Dr. Irfaan Ali is heard and determined.

Already the PPP is labeling the document as a pack of “fraudulent figures.”

The PPP, with 166,343 votes,  was given 31 seats APNU+AFC 32 seats with 171,825 votes and the three small-The New Movement, A New and United Guyana, and Liberty and Justice Party- a total of 3,348 votes.

In contrast to Lowenfield’s initial report containing 460,352 “valid votes cast”, the latest report shows that the APNU+AFC lost 46,095 votes, the PPP 66,993 votes and the three parties 1,886 votes.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) on Monday expressed concern that the court system was being used as a delaying tactic. “While the OAS General Secretariat advocates for the right of all citizens to access electoral justice, there is a fine line between the right to redress and the use of the courts to stall the electoral process,” the Western Hemispheric organisation said in a statement.

The OAS stressed that GECOM is already in possession of a result based on the valid votes cast on March 2, 2020, through a recount exercise that was approved by all stakeholders and if any party is aggrieved by the result, it could file an election petition in the High Court.

Based on the recount, 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.

“It is undeniable that this election has gone on long enough. The process in Guyana must be brought to an end, based on the results of the national recount, and with respect for the will of the majority of the electorate. The OAS remains committed to the strengthening of democracy in Guyana, hoping for a just and fair conclusion of the current process,” the OAS said.

PPP Attorneys-at-Law Anil Nandlall said the GECOM Chairman cannot act on the report because the Guyana Court of Appeal granted a three-day stay of its order. “The Chairperson has no other alternative but to reject that report,” he said.

The Caribbean Court of Justice is yet to say whether it will hear an appeal by the PPP in the Guyana Court of Appeal ruling on Monday.

Nandlall said no one has authorized Lowenfield to disenfranchise over 125,000 Guyanese. “He carelessly observed that order,” he said. “His incredible conduct from the beginning of the process  shows how deep seated he is (allegedly) with the rigging cabal,” he said.

The Caribbean Community scrutinised recount shows the PPP won the elections with 15,000 votes ahead of the APNU+AFC.