GECOM Chair has time to restore Constitution- Attorney General

DPI, Guyana, Monday, July 13, 2020

The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh still has time to address all current deficiencies and restore the rule of law to its rightful place.

This is according to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, SC.

The AG on Monday evening said the Chair’s most recent decision flies in the face of the Constitution and the recent ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which has advised that the rule of law be upheld in the elections.

The AG was a guest on the APNU+AFC’s live Facebook programme, updating on the country’s political state of affairs.

Earlier today Justice Singh ordered Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield to submit another report to the commission by 14:30 hrs on Tuesday with the tabulated numbers as are reflected on the Certificates of Recount from the recently held national vote recount.

The Chair, along with opposition commissioners today rejected the CEO’s final report which he had submitted on Saturday, showing a win for the incumbent APNU+AFC Coalition.

But AG Williams said the votes of the recount “do not exist” because they fall under Order 60 of 2020 or the gazetted National Recount Order which guided the 33-day national vote recount in May.

According to the Attorney General, Order 60 of 2020 has been rendered nugatory by the CCJ.

“So, there is no basis for the Chair of GECOM to even tell the CEO that he has to use the votes from the recount,” the AG said.

The CCJ ruled on July 1 that Order 60 of 2020 could not be used to create a “new regime” for Guyana’s General Elections when there exists Article 177 of the Constitution and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

The Attorney General pointed to Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution which empowers the CEO to advise the Chairman on the results of the elections before a declaration is made.

“The Chairman ought not to direct the CEO as to what to put in the report  that will go back to them. That would be tantamount to her acting on her own advice instead of the advice of the CEO…We expected as a matter of course, today when GECOM met that would have happened. Unfortunately, we heard that advice was not accepted and the Chairman is instead asking for another report in which she is directing him what it should contain,” he stated

The Attorney General said when one reads the judgement of the CCJ one will find throughout an understanding by the court that the elections in Guyana must be conducted under the rules of March 2.

“The CCJ is directing us to the established electoral machinery under the Constitution and the Act of Parliament that govern elections in Guyana.”

Meanwhile, in her order today, the GECOM Chair intimated that should the CEO fail to present his report with the specifications outlined, she would then delegate his deputy Roxanne Myers to so do.

But the Attorney General pointed out that that move cannot prevail since there is no provision for that under Article 177 (2) (b). The Article, he said is very clear that the CEO must tender his advice to the commission and the chairman must act only in accordance with that advice in declaring the person deemed elected as the president

“We have to show respect for the sanctity of our constitution in Guyana. It is a serious breach of the constitution. We believe that the Chairman still has time to address that deficiency and restore our Constitution to its rightful place,” he remarked.

In the meantime, AG Williams said Guyanese must be patient.

“There are avenues for which we will have recourse and we will be able to address this question. It has constitutional implications and we hope that these matters could be resolved.”

 

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