Every vote must be counted for transparent, credible results – Canadian diplomat

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…hopes court ruling does not impede recount process

News that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has decided to do a recount has been described by Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee, as encouraging, as she noted the importance of every vote being counted.

In an interview on Saturday, the High Commissioner noted that Guyana can only arrive at credible results if all votes are counted in a transparent manner. According to her, GECOM’s decision on Friday is one that the general public has been calling for.

“I am very encouraged that GECOM has proceeded with a national recount. This is what we’ve been calling for. We believe that every vote needs to be counted in order to have a transparent and credible process.”

Canadian High Commissioner Lillian Chatterjee

“So, I’m encouraged by that and I hope that the court ruling tomorrow [today] does not impede the recount process,” the High Commissioner noted, adding that she will have to wait and see what is the outcome of the court proceedings.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) had previously been invited by caretaker President David Granger to supervise such a recount. Following the Caricom initiative which was signed by himself and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, the process had to be stopped when one of Granger’s own candidates moved to the court and was granted an injunction which halted the process. According to Chatterjee, it is important for independent observation of the recount.

President David Granger

“I believe there are various options that are being reviewed. We hope that GECOM will allow the already accredited observers to continue and let’s see. Hope there will be an independent [observation]. First of all, the registered parties need to be present. Also, independent, accredited observers.”

Road to Appeal Court

On Tuesday last the Full Court had dismissed an injunction, seeking to block GECOM from conducting the Caricom supervised recount. That injunction, filed for by APNU/AFC candidate, Ulita Moore, was granted by High Court Judge, Justice Franklyn Holder, who had previously ruled he had jurisdiction to hear the case.

This was successfully challenged by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in the Full Court. Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, who presided in the Full Court along with Justice Naresh Harnanan, ruled that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the application filed by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) candidate Ulita Moore.

The Full Court took into account the fact that the Chair of GECOM, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, had given a public undertaking that the votes would be recounted to ensure that the results of the polls are credible and accepted by the various stakeholders.

GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh

As such, the interim injunction blocking the recount was discharged, paving the way for GECOM to go ahead with the process. However, this led to Moore approaching the Appeal Court to challenge that decision.

On Friday the Appeal Court denied an application by lawyers for Moore to prevent GECOM from making a decision on whether to proceed with a national recount or not, before the legal proceedings are completed, through an interim injunction.