Commissioner of Police, Leslie James
June 3 2020
…says stands by the list provided to GECOM
AN attempt to cast a shadow of doubt on the credibility of a list provided to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by the Guyana Police Force Immigration Department was met with major objection, with the Commissioner of Police, Leslie James, rubbishing the claims levied against him.
“…The Guyana Police Force stands by the information provided to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) recently,” the force said on Tuesday, in a direct response to an article published in the Kaieteur Newspaper, in which it was alleged that the Commissioner of Police provided the Elections Commission with fictitious information on persons who were out of the jurisdiction at the time of elections.
James, in a letter to the Elections Commission on May 27, confirmed that 172 persons from a list of 207 were not in Guyana when the General and Regional Elections were held on March 2. The names were verified in light of claims made by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), that persons voted in the place of Guyanese who were out of the jurisdiction at the time of elections.
But in the Tuesday, June 2, 2020 Edition of the Kaieteur News, the Police Commissioner was accused of providing “false” information to GECOM. The article’s headline read: ‘Top Cop gives false information to Claudette Singh,’ but hours later, the Police Force refuted the article.
“The Administration of the Force iterates that migration data produced by the Immigration Department of the Guyana Police Force is generated through its record system which includes an Electronic Border Management System. This system however, does not record persons who travelled illegally,” the force said in a terse statement.
While the Police Commissioner has confirmed that more than 83 per cent of the persons listed were out of the jurisdiction, GECOM’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Yolanda Ward, was unable to confirm whether those persons’ names were marked off as having voted on Elections Day as alleged by the APNU+AFC. However, she was keen on noting that the issue was actively engaging the attention of the Elections Commission.
“The commission has not made a decision on the way forward on this matter,” Ward told reporters on Monday on the outskirts of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) – the venue of the national recount of the March 2 votes.
While GECOM’s PRO has indicated that a single list of 207 names were provided by the APNU+AFC on May 20, the coalition’s Executive Member, Aubrey Norton, had told reports last week that 600 names were provided to GECOM to support it claims that persons voted in the place of migrants. But those 600 names, according to the APNU+AFC, were part of a list of 1,200 plus names of persons, who were alleged to have voted on E-Day but were out of the jurisdiction.
In addition to the 1,200 immigration-related cases, the APNU+AFC has cited over 800 additional cases in which it alleged that there were irregularities and discrepancies; these include cases in which persons allegedly voted on behalf of the dead. These irregularities, the coalition has argued, have affected more than 90,000 votes and ought to be thoroughly investigated by the Elections Commission before the results of the March 2 Elections are declared.
Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds, in an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, said that GECOM, under the Constitution and Elections Law (Amendment) Act, has the authority to investigate the anomalies ahead of the declaration of the results, and ought to do so.
“If it could, as the court has said, look into the complaints about the tabulation of Region Four votes, then it can investigate and pronounce on other forms of inconsistencies,” Dr. Hinds submitted, while underscoring the need for GECOM to facilitate a thorough investigation.
He said the discrepancies discovered thus far have already called into question the credibility of the March 2 Elections. “I think the irregularities uncovered thus far are enough to call into question the credibility of the elections. You simply cannot have a credible outcome if the process is as compromised as we are finding out. The numbers cannot be right if the process is wrong. It is as plain and clear as that,” the political scientist reasoned.
While dismissing claims that the recount is merely numerical, the political scientist said the primary purpose of the national recount is to determine the credibility of the elections, and as such, anomalies and discrepancies ought to be investigated.
“Was the electoral process a credible one? You can best determine that by a comprehensive look at how the electoral architecture was or was not manipulated by persons and forces entrusted with ensuring fairness,” he said, while noting that the recount itself is a very expansive investigation.
“So, you do not go through a recount and then at the end of the process say it’s not my duty to pronounce on what I find—leave it to a petition. GECOM cannot do investigation for the court—its investigation is to satisfy its own needs,” Dr. Hinds further stated. He submitted that it is hypocritical to talk about democratic outcomes when the process is undemocratic.