GECOM to meet Friday for next steps after CCJ ruling; PPP blames APNU for delaying tactic

Last Updated on Thursday, 9 July 2020, 17:52 by Denis Chabrol

by Samuel Sukhnandan

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.

Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are expected to meet on Friday to discuss the  way forward for the 2020 election following Wednesday’s ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward confirmed with News Talk Radio/Demerara Waves Online today that GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh has communicated this information to all six commissioners.

Following the court’s ruling there were reports that GECOM was expected to meet at 13:30 hrs Thursday and that meeting was postponed due to government-appointed commissioners requesting time to study the ruling.

But Commissioner Vincent Alexander said he is unaware of any postponement because no meeting was called.  “The chairman asked for our availability. No meeting was summoned specifically. My response was madam chair  when we have such matters to give us time to receive the documents and read, before we reconvene. And in that  context, please advise me when it is prudent to meet,” the commissioner  said.

In fact, Alexander confirmed that he only received a hard copy of the CCJ ruling on Thursday afternoon. “I just got  the documents from her (chair). I will indeed have to study it. And we have since been invited to a meeting tomorrow.”

On the other hand, opposition-appointed commissioner Sase Gunraj said Guyanese have been waiting for this process  to come to an end for months now. He argued that the CCJ itself has recognised the inordinate time taken to complete  the election process, but more importantly the decision as was handed down by the CCJ is very clear.

“As a consequence to further delay the process with the excuse of wanting to study the judgement, I believe it is another  tactic to which we have become accustomed from that group of commissioners. And I believe that the directive of the  CCJ should be speedily adhered to,” said Gunraj, a practising Attorney-at-Law.

Key issues down for discussion by the seven-member body will centre on the need for a new report by GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield in keeping with the national vote recount data as stated by the Caribbean Court of Justice. That court has ruled that his previously report has been invalidated and that he should prepare a new one in accordance with the law and the meaning of “valid” votes as spelt out in the Representation of the People  Act.

The Caribbean Court frowned on the Chief Elections Officer’s subtraction of 115,000 votes based on the Guyana Court of Appeal’s ruling that “more votes” means “more valid votes” in keeping with the gazetted recount order .

The GECOM spokeswoman told News Talk Radio 103.1 FM / Demerara Waves Online that in the GECOM’s chair initial communication to
the commissioners following the CCJ ruling was to ascertain whether they were available to meet on Thursday. The  government-appointed commissioners responded by requesting copies of the ruling.