New deadline for GECOM chief
Georgetown – The chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired justice Claudette Singh, Friday informed the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, he should revisit her letter of July 9 to prepare his report that would start the process of releasing the official results of the disputed March 2 regional and general election.
Lowenfield had earlier written to Singh indicating that he needed guidance as to whether the report should be premised on Section 18 of the Election Laws or on Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution.
On Thursday, Singh wrote to Lowenfield seeking the report on the elections based on the results of the national recount vote that ended on June 9.
Singh had indicated that under the Election Laws Act, “you are subject to the direction and control of the Elections Commission” and that the report should have been submitted by 2 p.m. (local time) on Friday “using the valid votes counted in the National Recount as per certificates of recount generated therefrom”.
Her letter came one day after the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the country’s highest court, threw out a Court of Appeal majority ruling upon which Lowenfield had based a report he had submitted to GECOM indicating that the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had won the polls defeating the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
The PPP/C had claimed victory by more than 15 000 votes following the national recount of ballots that was observed by a three-member team from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
But in his letter, Lowenfield said he had reviewed the judgement of the CCJ and some clarifications are imperative to preparation and submission of the required report to safeguard against any action deemed to be unilateral.
“The Court endorsed the view that GECOM cannot determine credibility,” he wrote, adding “it therefore holds that order 60 of 2020 cannot be executed in its entirety.
‘As a consequence, a final credible count as conceived by the Commission and expressed in the Order cannot be attained.”
He said that the concluding opinion pf the CCJ’s judgement states “that Order 60 is in tension with the Constitution of Guyana and could not create a new election regime.
“Kindly provide guidance on which results of the Elections of 2 March, 2020 could be lawfully declared.”
Lowenfield wrote that the “historic” practice of submission of the elections report to the Chairman has been premised on ascertainment of the results by the Chief Elections Officer.
“The structure of your missive suggests a change in operational procedures and further the two citations appear dissimilar. In that regard, clear guidance is required with respect to whether the report being requested is premised on Section 18 of the Election Law Act 15 of 2000 or on Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution.”
But, Singh wrote “in response to your request for guidance on which the results of the March 2, 2020 Elections can be declared, you are accordingly advised that my letter dated July 9, 2020 stands’”.
In addition, she informed Lowenfield “you are therefore required to submit your report by 11.00 hrs on 11th July 2020”. (CMC)