The Guyana Elections Commission has instructed its Chief Elections Officer (CEO) to come up with an operational plan/proposal detailing how the national recount of votes from the March 2 polls will take place under the supervision of a high-level CARICOM team.
After some three hours of meeting with the Commission, the CEO Keith Lowenfield has until 18:00hrs Sunday to produce this plan to the Commission which will then review it, brief the CARICOM team and then finalise the plan, according to Government nominated Commission Charles Corbin.
Corbin explained that the Commission wants to ensure that the recount of the votes is done within the laws of Guyana so that the results are not subject to a court challenge.
“On the basis of our general understanding, we have embarked on a process… what was clear, the process will remain anchored on GECOM procedures and will be guided by the laws and Constitution of Guyana with oversight of the [CARICOM] team, Corbin explained.
He further noted, “As these things come up we will have to ensure that everything we do, we do it in a manner that it will not be subject to challenge because we are in a very litigious environment…while we want to do it as quickly as possible, you want to also ensure that you cover the legislative basis for whatever is done.”
Earlier, President David Granger in an address to the nation made it clear that it is for GECOM to establish the Terms of Reference (TORs) governing the relationship between the CARICOM Initiative and the Elections Commission.
It was the President who sought CARICOM’s intervention to supervise the national recount in agreement with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
That team arrived in Guyana late Saturday night on Caribbean military aircraft and met briefly with the Chairman of GECOM Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh, the six Commissioners and the CEO on Sunday at the Commission’s Kingston, Georgetown headquarters.
According to Corbin, the TORs is necessary so as to avoid different interpretations of how the recount should be done.
“One of the things we want to avoid is a situation where we have different interpretations based on oral understandings of what is being intended.”
He said the CEO will also have to include in his proposal a location for the recount to take place since it was already concluded that the recount cannot take place at the GECOM Headquarters.
The GECOM Commissioners are also concerned about the laws governing a recount and whether this will be breached.
“The current legislation explains that once you do that documentation and you change the count, you must post the Statement of Poll alongside the old one. That is in legislation. If we’re not going to do that and they’re issues associated with it, we have to cross that legislative hoop,” Corbin stressed.
Additionally, Opposition nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj is hopeful that the recount could commence on Monday and dismissed reports that Guyana’s laws do not allow for an independent team to supervise the recount.
“I am satisfied based on my research and reading of the law that it is allowed and we are allowed as a constitutional body to set our processes and deal with it,” Gunraj said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioners are still awaiting official documentation from the President and Mr Jagdeo informing them about the high-level CARICOM team.
Corbin said the three Government nominated Commissioners were only made aware of CARICOM’s invitation when it was reported in the media.
He said the CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin La Roque has committed to ensuring that the two political leaders duly inform the Commissioners.