– Jagdeo admits more processes to follow
– recount process still at stage 2
CELEBRATING victory at this stage of the national recount process is premature, and even the People’s Progressive Party/C Civic, which previously did such, has come to realise that the four stages of the process must be respected.
The recount shows the PPP/C in the lead by 15,416 votes but has unearthed massive irregularities and alleged cases of electoral fraud which the APNU+AFC estimates have compromised 90,000 votes. Nonetheless, on June 7, when the recount was completed and tabulation continued, a crowd of PPP/C supporters, egged on by their leaders, celebrated victory.
On the other hand, the APNU+AFC, led by President David Granger, reminded that the Elections Commission was only now at Stage 2 of a four-stage process. Later acceding to same was Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, during a message on his Facebook page, on Tuesday, calling for persons to respect the GECOM Chair.
In concluding his remarks, he stated: “I, therefore, call on you to exercise restraint as we await CEO Lowenfield’s expeditious submission of a tabulation of the certified recount results from the ten electoral districts, together with a summary of the observation reports for each district to the Commission. The Commission will then meet and discuss this report consistent with its mandate, and the final results should be declared in accordance with the Order, on or before the 16th of June.”
On previous occasions such as an address to the nation, President Granger had also urged the public to await the completion of the exercise. “I encourage everyone to await the completion of the four stages – the current recount, the reports of the Chief Elections Officer and the CARICOM observers, the review by the Elections Commission and the declarations of the final results by the Chairman of the Commission,” he had stated.
The above remarks from both leaders stand true to the Order which legally triggered the recount. It outlines Stage 1 as the counting of the ballots and Stage 2 as the compilation of reports which must be handed over for review by the Commission. At stage two — where the process currently is — Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield must submit a report of the recount no later than June 13.
The report will include a summary of the Observation Reports for each District. It is in these observation reports that the APNU+AFC, primarily, has highlighted over 6,000 cases which it believes are tied to electoral fraud. These cases include: counterfoils and ballots carrying the same number; ballots for one region cast in another; ballots cast for the dead and persons who have migrated; persons voting without proper identification; persons voting outside of their districts without employment documents; large numbers of improperly stamped ballots at locations where disciplined services members voted; missing poll books and documents from one polling station being found in the ballot boxes of another.
It is also expected that the three-member CARICOM Scrutinising Team will present a report on their observations, recommendations and conclusions to the Commission. When the said reports are received by the Commission, it will then proceed to Stage 3 which will see them deliberating on the reports and how they will be treated with.
The amended Order states: “The Commission shall, after deliberating on the report at Paragraph 12, determine whether it should request the Chief Election Officer to use the data compiled in accordance with Paragraph 12 as the basis for the submission of a report under Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:03, provided that the Commission shall, no later than three (3) days after receiving the report, make the declaration of the results of the final credible count of the elections held on the 2nd day of March 2020.”
Once the report is deliberated upon, Stage 4 should commence as the Commission will be in the position to know clearly whether the CEO should use the data to compile a final report for the declaration of the results by GECOM Chairperson, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh. The Elections Commission has had previous cause to remind the public and persons who address the media that it is the only body with the legal right to pronounce on general and regional elections in the country.
It has stated: “While the National Recount of the ballots cast in those elections is almost to an end, the Commission wishes to remind that the Guyana Elections Commission is the only Constitutional authority mandated to pronounce on the results of the elections. In this regard, the Commission is urging political parties, organizations, interest groups and other individuals to desist from pronouncing publicly on the results of the elections.”