A statement issued by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition yesterday outlined the clear position of their leader, de facto President David Granger that he will not be accepting any declaration based on the figures derived from the National Recount. This represents the most significant departure yet from prior commitments made by Granger,
“We maintain,” the statement said, “that the Elections Commission can only make a ‘declaration’ based on valid votes. The recount process which was conducted, painstakingly, for thirty-three days revealed massive irregularities and extensive fraud which cannot be foisted on the Guyanese people to contrive an outcome that betrays the will of the electorate.”
This is the latest doubling down on the President’s position as expressed in his remarks to supporters outside of State House on July, in the wake of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling in the Irfaan Ali vs Eslyn David et al case.
Granger told supporters that, “The matter will go back to the Election Commission but as far as we are concerned, we have evidence that there has been massive fraud and irregularities and we will continue the fight to make sure that your votes are counted.”
Granger’s recent position stands not only in direct conflict with international consensus on the credibility and validity of the National Recount figures, but also with his previous commitments to stand by what he referred to as the four Cs: the Constitution, the Court, the Commission, and CARICOM.
President Granger in the past has repeatedly stated that he would “abide by the Constitution of Guyana.” The party’s statement in fact says that, “Any attempt to include fraudulent votes in a ‘declaration’ will constitute a violation of the constitution and the fundamental principles of democracy. We maintain that the Elections Commission can only make a ‘declaration’ based on valid votes.”
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had however, in their ruling in the Irfaan Ali vs Eslyn David et al case stated that, “Unless and until an election court decides otherwise, the votes already counted by the recount process as valid votes are incapable of being declared invalid by any person or authority other than the High Court through an election petition.”
What the CCJ also did in their ruling was to overturn the judgment passed by the Appellate Court deeming it invalid and of no effect. As a consequence, the 23rd June report of the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield that was supported by the President and his party that was based on this decision was similarly of no effect. The President’s statement then indirectly supports a departure from the Constitution on this critical issue as decided by the Guyana’s apex court.
With regards to the courts, President Granger has always maintained that he would “respect their rulings”; however, despite saying in his statement that the party “as always, remains committed to the judicial process,” he disregarded the ruling made by the Guyana’s apex court in the Eslyn David case.
The Coalition, not satisfied with the judgment passed, filed an application in the High Court to regurgitate the same argument hashed out at the CCJ. The Chief Justice (CJ) Roxane George-Wiltshire in her ruling stated clearly that the relief sought by application, Mesinga Jones, an APNU+AFC counting agent was already settled by previous court decisions.
Nonetheless, the party again disregarded the CJ’s ruling and filed an appeal with the Appellate Court. Touching on this, APNU+AFC in their statement said, “The appellant Misenga Jones seeks to set aside or reverse the entire judgment of Chief Justice Roxane George” and added that such an appeal is “lawful, proper and guaranteed under the Constitution, our supreme law.”
APNU+AFC said in their statement that, “The recount process which was conducted, painstakingly, for thirty-three days revealed massive irregularities and extensive fraud which cannot be foisted on the Guyanese people to contrive an outcome that betrays the will of the electorate.”
The results of the recount, supervised by a high-level CARICOM Scrutineering Team revealed that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won the March 2 Elections with a more than 15,000 valid vote lead ahead of APNU+AFC.
Instead of conceding to their clear loss, the party continues to argue that the recount merely uncovered mass fraud and irregularities and stated that any result from the process would be tainted and unlawful. A majority of these allegations were raised by APNU+AFC during the recount process and to date, no hard hitting evidence has been provided to support them, a point raised in the CARICOM report. Moreover, the three-member CARICOM Scrutineering Team in their report confirmed the results showing a win for the PPP and while they noted the irregularities brought to the fore by APNU+AFC, they stated that it would not affect the results. That report also received widespread support from a host of stakeholders in the international community.
The Coaliton’s opposition to that report reached the doors of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the Irfaan Ali vs Eslyn David litigation and a clear ruling was handed down, validating the recount results. Also, it should be noted that the President affirmed on more than one occasion confidence in the CARICOM team to overlook the recount process deeming them the most “legitimate interlocutor.”
In fact, Granger had said, “I am very confident in CARICOM’s ability and integrity and I would just like to repeat what the Ambassador of Barbados to Washington said, that CARICOM is the most legitimate interlocutor on the Guyana situation. I am inspired by that remark and I share the sentiment that CARICOM is the most legitimate interlocutor on the Guyana situation.”
While the statement said that APNU+AFC is “committed to a lawful and credible declaration of results based on valid votes,” every attempt made by the GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh to produce a declaration has been met with court actions brought by the party and its supporters.
Even though the President has expressed high confidence in the GECOM Chair, declaring publicly his “trust” for her and the Commission, his actions have told a different story, including the Coalition’s court challenges to her instructions to GECOM CEO to prepare a report based on the recount figures. Those actions have also coupled with what has been condemned by observers, including the United Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, as gross disrespect for the Chair; this includes slanderous postings by supporters on social media and a mock funeral for Singh, held by APNU+AFC supporters in front of State House, one in which her effigy was placed in a coffin and kicked. Asked by Kaieteur News last week to specifically condemn these attacks on the Chair, Granger had refused, saying only that the attacks were not “a policy” of his administration.
Open to Dialogue
The Coalition ended their statement, noting that they are “open to dialogue with other political parties and stakeholders on the way forward for our country.”
“The APNU+AFC Coalition,” claimed the statement “is prepared to act responsibly to bring a resolution to the ongoing political situation. We remain confident of a credible and legitimate outcome to the elections.”