Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairwoman, retired Justice Claudette Singh has finally broken her silence via an Affidavit of Defence submitted to the High Court, in which she reaffirms her promise to facilitate a national recount.
The affidavit was submitted in response to the application filed on behalf of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) candidate Ulita Moore, who is seeking to block the recount despite the leader of her party, caretaker President David Granger signing an initiative with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to have Caricom supervise the recount.
Justice Singh, GECOM and Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield were named as the respondents in the court case. In her affidavit, she swore that she will fulfil her promise to Chief Justice Roxane George on March 13.
“On March 13, I appeared before… Chief Justice Roxane George in a contempt motion touching on and concerning the tabulation by the Region Four Returning Officer of the General and Regional Elections.”
“I indicated to the court that the tabulation process was in progress and that should there be discrepancies in the SoPs as called by the Returning Officer and those held by the political parties, then the discrepancies should be noted and at the end of the process if they could not be addressed then I will endeavour to facilitate a recount at the level of the Commission,” the affidavit stated.
According to Justice Singh, it is, therefore, her wish to bring this agreement to the court’s attention. She also emphasised that the affidavit was drawn up based on her instructions by her attorney, Kim Kyte-Thomas.
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo has also joined the proceedings. In his application, Jagdeo is seeking to have GECOM produce the Region Four Statements of Poll (SoPs) in their possession, as well as the nullification of Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo’s most recent discredited Region Four declaration.
During Tuesday’s in-chamber hearing, it was decided to consolidate applications from both parties. The parties will return to court today, while further submissions have to be made on Wednesday and Thursday. It is unclear when a final ruling will be made, although GECOM’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Neil Boston was optimistic of a ruling by this weekend.
Under Singh’s tenure, GECOM has been engaged in many questionable activities, the latest being their removal of ballot boxes from the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) without informing the several parties who took part in the elections and stood vigil over the boxes.
The containers were stored at the facility pending a countrywide recount of votes cast at the March 2 General and Regional Elections. Under Police escort, the containers were transported from Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, to GECOM’s headquarters on High Street, Kingston, Georgetown.
Political parties’ representatives had camped outside of the Centre on a 24-hour basis to guard the containers while one party agent is allowed inside GECOM’s compound.
Since the elections were held three weeks ago, a winner is yet to be announced. The majority of observers who scrutinised the tabulation process have pronounced it to have not been credible.
GECOM itself had come in for much of the criticism, with repeated attempts being made by Mingo to subvert the process going unchecked by the Commission. Only the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) nominated Commissioners have voiced their disapproval.
The international community has warned Guyana that it could be isolated and even sanctioned if a President is sworn in on the flawed results.