Last night in his radio interview on Benschop Radio, President David Granger made the following remarks:
“The second stage that we are in now, is that the Chief Election Officer is required to produce a report and, in fact, that report has already been produced.
So we have already moved to the third stage; the report has to be presented to the Commission and that Commission has to review the report. …
We have publicly stated that we support the Elections Commission, both the Chairman and the Chief Election Officer, and we are prepared to live by the outcome. Once the Chairman makes the declaration, which I hope is soon, we will abide by that declaration. ….
The Commission is bound to accept the report of the Chief Election Officer. He is the Authority. There is no other authority to prepare such a report. He is mandated to prepare a report – the report will include the tabulation and validation in the form of observation. And if the observation shows that there has been corruption, he is obligated to make such a report.
The report has to go to the Commission for review and we expect a declaration, which is going to be acceptable to all of Guyana and to the international community. That is where we are. The process is in the hands of the Commission. I cannot intervene at this stage. I have not intervened before and I will not intervene now.”
Mr. Granger has obviously confused the stages of the Recount process. The process has moved beyond the second stage. The Report to which Mr. Granger refers (above) has already been prepared and submitted to the Commission by the Chief Election Officer. It is public knowledge that GECOM has considered that Report, which has the tabulated number of valid votes for each of the 10 districts along with the 10 district summaries of the Observation Reports. It is also public knowledge that the Commission met and discussed this Report and in a public statement after this meeting it was emphasized that the Commission decision is to only use the total valid votes generated from the Recount exercise, as the basis for the declaration of the final results. GECOM further emphasized, in the public statement that it had no authority to invalidate the valid votes which were recounted and totaled on every Statement of Recount, tabulated for every electoral district resulting in a total aggregate of all valid votes cast giving the PPP a victory of over 15,000 votes.
As a result, the Chair of the Commission directed the Chief Election Officer, in writing, to prepare the final Report as required by the Order 60 of 2020 and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act, using only the numbers generated from the Recount exercise. Contrary to GECOM’s directions and in violation of the law, the Chief Election Officer purported to present that final Report but in so doing he invalidated over 115,000 valid votes, which he has no authority to do. That is the stage where we are at.
We are happy that Mr. Granger has committed to live by the outcome of the Recount process and has also committed to abide by the declaration of the final results by the Commission. We do not agree that the Chief Election Officer’s fraudulent Report is binding on the Commission. The Chief Election Officer is subordinate and subject to the directions of GECOM. Not the reverse. Therefore, the Chief Election Officer can only act upon the directions of GECOM. Mr. Granger is reducing the Commission to be a rubber stamp of the Chief Election Officer. Taking Mr. Granger’s reasoning to its logical conclusion it means that a rogue Chief Election Officer can steal an entire election by simply presenting a fraudulent Report which binds the Commission. That is certainly not the case as is reflected in both the law and Order 60 of 2020.
Section 18 of the Elections Law (Amendment) Act states:
“The Chief Election Officer and the Commissioner of Registration shall notwithstanding anything in any written law be subject to the direction and control of the Commission.”
Order 60/2020 upon which Mr. Granger and APNU/AFC rely states in pertinent part as follows:
“15. For the avoidance of any doubt, the Chief Election officer and every person appointed or authorized to perform any act or functions by virtue of this Order, are and shall remain subject to the general supervisory power of the Commission.”
Further Article 162 (1) of the Constitution states that the Commission:
“(b) shall issue such instructions and take such action as appear to it necessary or expedient to ensure impartiality, fairness and compliance with the provisions of this Constitution or of any Act of Parliament on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties connected with or relating to the matters aforesaid.”
Keith Lowenfield having submitted a fraudulent Report to the Commission must now be redirected to follow the written instructions already given to him by the Chairperson and to prepare a proper Report based upon the results generated by the Recount exercise.
We also agree with Mr. Granger that a declaration must be made which is acceptable to all Guyanese and the international community. The only such declaration is one that is based upon the Recount results. That is what every stakeholder organization has demanded and that is what every international organization has publicly called for. Nothing short shall suffice.
We also agree with Mr. Granger that the process is still in the authority of GECOM under the Constitution of Guyana. The Court of Appeal ruling has not changed that, neither will a ruling from the Caribbean Court of Justice. In this regard we reiterate Mr. Joseph Harmon’s submissions, before the Caribbean Court of Justice, that the Court of Appeal made no determination as to whether the votes cast were valid or not, and, imposed no criteria by which the validity of votes would be determined.
In the interview last night, Mr. Granger miraculously placed heavy reliance on the CARICOM Observer Team Report, quoting liberally but conveniently from it. However, he failed to recognize that in the main the Report said that the allegations made by APNU/AFC were outrageous claims, exaggerations, distortions and misinformation; that the recount process was credibly and transparently done, and that the results generated from the process are valid and credible.
Indeed, the Report stated the following to which Mr. Granger did not refer:
“We are however, of the unshakeable belief that the people of Guyana expressed their will at the ballot box, and as a result, the 3 person CARICOM Observer Team concludes that the recount results are completely acceptable.”
“Despite our concerns, nothing that we witnessed warrants a challenge to the inescapable conclusion that the recount results are acceptable and should constitute the basis of the declaration of the results of the March 2, 2020, elections. Any aggrieved political party has been afforded the right to seek redress before the courts in the form of an election petition.”
“the national recount process then, despite some of its minor flaws, is not an indictment of the 2020 polls and the team categorically rejects the concerted public efforts to discredit the 2020 polls up to the disastrous Region 4 tabulation.”
“the recounting of the votes was conducted with as much precision as possible and with absolutely no hint of bias on the part of the GECOM station workers. Their impartiality with respect to the vote recount was outstanding.”
Like President Granger, we expect an early declaration of the results using the total valid votes generated from the Recount exercise, showing the PPP victory at the March 2, 2020 Elections.
People's Progressive Party
June 30th, 2020