Former House Speaker says GECOM must declare poll results based on recount

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Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran, has made it clear that the only data the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) can use to make a final declaration of the election results is the one coming out of the national elections recount.

Ramkarran articulated this position on Sunday, after a tour of the recount venue – Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC). His view is one that has been expressed by several legal minds along with Commissioners of GECOM.

According to Ramkarran, who contested the elections also as the Presidential Candidate of A New and United Guyana (ANUG), there is no question that the recount is legal. He said that at the end of the process, a declaration should be made by GECOM based on the recount and went on to urge that all participants accept the final results.

“Some people have raised the question of the legality of the recount. Not many, but some. Our view is the Constitution and Section 22 of the Election Laws Amendment Act fully allow a recount. A recount is also allowed by the Representation of the People’s Act, so there’s no question about the legality of the recount.” He said that at the end of the process it is expected that a declaration will be issued by GECOM on the results of the recount. “And we hope it will be accepted by all the contestants,” he also said.

Ramkarran noted that contrary to the views of a jilted minority, it is not possible for GECOM to abandon the recount and give precedence to APNU/AFC claims that dead and migrated people voted. He noted that if a declaration cannot be made based on the recount due to questions of credibility, then Clairmont Mingo’s declaration cannot be used for the same reason.

“It is not possible for GECOM to order a recount under the election Law Amendment Act and at the end of the process, abandon a declaration of that recount and then return to the count and issue a declaration based on the report made to GECOM by the Chief Election Officer and make a declaration.”

He added that the same votes that are being counted in the present recount, “are the same votes that were made under the count that the Presiding Officer counted. So if you can’t make a declaration under the recount, you can’t make a declaration under the count.”

According to Ramkarran, this would, therefore, mean that no declaration can be made, adding that such a state of affairs is not allowed under the Constitution of Guyana. Therefore, he said, GECOM must proceed with the declaration of the results based on the recount and have all the allegations of irregularities addressed by an election petition.

“The Constitution does not provide for a situation where no declaration is made after an election. The constitutional process is elections, results, swearing in of the President, convening of Parliament and appointment of Ministers. That’s the constitutional process,” Ramkarran pointed out.

He noted that if there is no declaration, there is no process to go back since Parliament is dissolved and cannot be recalled. According to the former Speaker, Guyana would be at a constitutional dead end.

Since the recount started, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has put the coalition on blast since the vote count in the recount proves that Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, had indeed inflated the figures in favour of APNU/AFC while in many instances deflated the votes for PPP/C.

Mingo made two declarations after the March 2 General and Regional Elections, both of which differed in number and were denounced as not credible by political parties and local and international observers. The first declaration was eventually thrown out by the court as illegal since the process of an elections count was not followed, while the second declaration was put in abeyance until the conclusion of the recount.

A unified international community has already warned Guyana that it could be isolated and even sanctioned if a President is sworn in on the flawed results, resulting in an uneasy standoff between the international community and APNU/AFC.