…Harmon says coalition will continue press GECOM to address irregularities
CONSEQUENT upon the request by A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) executive member Joseph Harmon for a response from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on what will be the outcome of his party’s objections in the national recount process, People’s Progressive Party agent Anil Nandlall has written the commissioner of police stating that what Harmon did amounts to a threat.
Harmon voiced this on Friday in his briefing with the media, pronouncing further that he is not fazed by Nandlall nor any of the opposition’s couriers.
“Nandlall wrote the police commissioner saying that I issued a threat. I do not know who retained him to write that letter– I suppose it’s the PPP– that [my writing] on behalf of the people of Guyana requiring GECOM to do what they are legally required to do, that that amounts to a threat. Well I want to say to Mr. Nandlall and the other people who have built an annex to Freedom House under these tents, that that does not faze me. I will continue to press for the right and the justice of our Guyanese people to ensure that their votes are properly counted and validated and whatever comes out of this process, represents the will of the Guyanese people expressed on March 2 2020,” Harmon said.
He told the media that his major concern is how GECOM will treat with the anomalies raised and irregularities identified, since he is of the view that it is going to be a challenge for the commission to come to a definitive position where the votes are concerned; especially since the number of cases they have raised has compromised a qualitative figure of 90,000 votes.
“These are major issues which touch and concern the credibility of this process and concern the votes that are tabulated. What is taking place right now is a tabulation of those votes and so when it is announced as valid, we have an objection to that, because a valid vote is a vote that has actually been tabulated and gone through a process of assessment, taken into consideration, the observations and the objections which have been made; and they are many. There are hundreds of persons we have objected to who were not here on the second of March and voted. We had several persons who are dead and voted,” Harmon expressed.
Alluding further that, “The phenomenon yesterday particularly as it relates to votes on the lower East Coast, where somehow it appears that all the POs that were doing duty in predominant PPP strongholds forgot all the training they got from GECOM and therefore you have boxes with ballots only. That’s a very obnoxious position that anyone can take to say that these are valid votes and I’m happy to see this morning that tabulation officers are at it. And they brought to our attention several other boxes with the same disease.”
He said that all they are requesting to know, is how the commission will respond to these concerns which were raised by the party. Harmon noted too that this part of the process will be done very shortly, “so we must have a clear position on that particular issue, and they have an obligation to respond to these issues.”
Harmon said that it is his party’s responsibility as a stakeholder in the recount process to put to the commission, all of the defects they have seen, which he says amount to electoral fraud.
But in the commission itself, he pointed out, “the PPP commissioners were filibustering, they were trying to prevent the commission from meeting to deliberate on these matters, so that they can run out with these only tabulated numbers to say that we win or lost.”
He reiterated that the process is not completed at the end of this phase, in fact, “it’s a four- stage process. So after the count is done, there’s a report that has to be submitted by the chief elections officer, that report has to be deliberated upon by the commission itself, and once the commission finishes its deliberations, the chair will make a declaration or statement,” he explained.
However, Harmon also indicated that the party abides by President Granger’s position; that they will await the GECOM chairperson’s decision.
In addition, he said that he believes the CARICOM team’s report will be persuasive, “because they have been brought here to oversee and scrutinise the process and I suspect, they, having been here for the entire period, they like us would have seen on a daily basis, the genies that are emerging out of these boxes when they are open. We trust that GECOM would make an honest assessment of what they saw and produce to the elections commission, a report that deals with the credibility of the process. We recognise GECOM as being the competent authority, and we trust the chair will make an honest declaration with what is before her. The observations and objections of the recount must be the facts to be taken into consideration in making her determination,” Harmon posited.
Meanwhile, Nandlall told the media that someone in the secretariat mischievously advised recount personnel to be inserted into the Observation Report, language to suggest that the votes and the recount are invalid.
To this end, he said that it is unfortunate language since he is of the understanding that no one in the recount process can invalidate a ballot except the ballot is a forgery, or if it has multiple marks or if it is unstamped.
In fact, he said all the objections being raised by the coalition are not grounds to give GECOM the power to invalidate a vote. This power, he said, only lies in an elections court.
He stated too that GECOM cannot determine the credibility of the elections. “No man can be a judge in his own cause. GECOM can’t judge its own process. GECOM managed the electoral process, so they can’t sit to judge themselves.
More importantly, the constitution says that only the High Court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any allegation of irregularity and negligent conduct or actions at an election,” Nandlall said.