No declaration guaranteed from National Recount Order- AG

—does not accommodate CARICOM’s report

 DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, SC has said the gazetted Order which guides the ongoing National Vote Recount of the March 2, General and Regional Elections does not guarantee a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“What GECOM is required by that law to do, however, is determine whether or not the March 2 General and Regional elections were executed in a free, fair and credible manner,” the AG said.

He noted that based on the findings during the recount and the detailed report of the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, the elections were in not credible.

The Attorney General was part of a three-member panel on the radio programme Straight Up at noon today.

AG Williams remarked that everyone appeared to be evading the Recount Order which was agreed to by all parties.

“A declaration doesn’t have to be made under this Order. If GECOM finds that the integrity of the recount and credibility is affected, then it is inconclusive and like in many other countries, GECOM can decide to cancel the elections and inform the President without making a declaration.”

He related that the elections body can only follow the Order that is in effect, lawful. He also noted that the only way a declaration could be made is if GECOM directs the CEO to prepare a report under Section 96 of the Constitution which speaks to the “valid votes”.

Based on the CEO’s report, only 40 percent of the overall votes appear to be untainted. That percentage puts the APNU+AFC Coalition in the lead.

“We are a far way from a declaration, because those who are saying that we can act now on a recount, the PPP etc, that are saying that once the recount is done then that is it, but that is not so. They signed on to the Order which says that the recount is subject to the credibility test.”

Meanwhile, addressing the report of the three-member CARICOM scrutinizing team, the AG reminded that nothing in the Recount Order obliges the commission to consider the CARICOM report in the same manner as the law requires it to consider that of the  CEO.

He reminded that opposition member Anil Nandlall had himself declared recently that the CARICOM report has no bearing on the decisions of GECOM.

The AG also posited that it would not be reasonable to think that the CARICOM report was heavily influenced by the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Dr. Gonsalves late last week dictated that GECOM should make a declaration based on the tabulated votes that are proved to be tainted by electoral fraud; a statement that saw tremendous backlash.

“The crafters of the Order in their wisdom did not put any rule for GECOM to consider the CARICOM report,” AG Williams said.