‘Court ruling may have created avenue to legitimise electoral fraud’- Aubrey Norton

DPI Guyana, Thursday July 23, 2020


APNU+AFC Executive Member Aubrey Norton

APNU+AFC Executive Member Aubrey Norton said the most recent ruling of the High Court may have opened an avenue to legitimise the attempt at electoral fraud by the opposition; a move which has become a growing cause for concern.

The High Court on Monday ruled that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) should move ahead and use the tabulated numbers from the national vote recount to determine the winner of the March 2 Elections.

That attempt by GECOM was challenged in the High Court by private citizen Misenga Jones, as she believes that the recount is unconstitutional and that the commission should follow the law and use the declarations made by Returning Officers (RO) of the ten electoral districts.

That challenge was thrown out by the High Court.

In an interview with CCN Tv6 Fazeer Mohammed on Tuesday, Norton said the contention over that ruling is, if the court found the recount to be legal, then the process could not be looked at in part since both His Excellency President David Granger and opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo agreed to a four-stage process aimed at determining the credibility of the elections.

“One of the things we were asking is whether the recount process was legal. The CJ [Chief Justice] went through what the CCJ [Caribbean Court of Justice] said and concluded that the recount was legal. If we accept that as a true position, then one would expect that the CJ would look at the entire recount process and if she did, would have looked at the tabulation and the discrepancies recorded on the observation reports and then looked at the CEO’s report and the declaration. What she did, however, is to pronounce on the legitimacy of the recount but looking only at the numbers. There is where we part company,” Norton stated.

He said what the High Court did, was to “legitimise electoral fraud” since it had before it all the data of the observation reports that emanated from the recount process it deemed legal “and suddenly you can use part of it but obfuscate the rest. That is unacceptable and its that element of the ruling that we have a problem.”

Following the ruling of the High Court, Jones has moved to the Court of Appeal for recourse.

Norton said the appeal is asking the judges to look at the recount order in its entirety and arrive at a more logical conclusion that will eschew a government based on electoral fraud.

“The PPP has never disowned the electoral fraud. They are only saying that the government should go to an elections petition. We are saying that this is different because we went into the boxes and know what is in the boxes and therefore to tell us about elections petition is to say legitimise the fraud and let’s look at it afterwards and that is unacceptable,” he maintained.

Norton said the government has to consistently fight this battle because it is becoming more and more obvious that this is not “solely about elections and a recount process. This is an attempt at regime change and the attempt is being made to ensure who the powers be, get who they want there.”

Dispelling all narratives that the coalition has lost the elections and refuses to accept, Norton said it is quite the opposite. The government, he said, remains adamant that no political party should come to power based on electoral fraud.

“It comes across to me as a people who are standing up for the law. If you are telling me to go to a recount, the president and opposition signed an order, then we expect that you look at the entire order. You cannot be selective of which element you use and which element you discard and then tell us to go by elections petition.”

Norton explained that the discrepancies uncovered spread across all instances of fraud. Discovered during the recount were 49 boxes without documentation, evidence of dead and migrated voters, persons voting without ID or any oath of affidavit among hundreds of others anomalies.

Altogether, more than 200,000 votes have been affected.

“If it were the other way around, the PPP would not have accepted it and so we see no reason why we should. We continue to struggle to ensure that whichever government is declared, must be a government that is elected based on the law. We are fighting a just cause and believe that persons who are prepared to look at this comprehensively and holistically will conclude that something is amiss.”.”