…exercise will extend and paralyse recount- Attorney
The PNC/APNU/AFC caretaker government is strenuously pushing for GECOM to conduct an audit of the ballots rather than a recount which has actually been authorised by the Commission. According to Attorney at law Sanjeev Datadin, this is simply another ruse by the coalition to extend the recount so that they could continue clinging on to power through having the officials comply with the 19-point checklist provided by the Secretariat while simultaneously providing them with a wider array of reasons for returning to the courts.
As pointed out by Datadin, any de facto audit “ignores Section 89(2) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) that expressly states “the Returning Officer shall not open the sealed packets containing tendered ballots, the marked copies of the official list of electors …or counterfoils of used ballot papers… Whilst it is true that the recount is under GECOM exercising its constitutional (Art 162) and statutory powers and not the RPA the edict of RPA should not be easily ignored… The RPA codified the restriction because it was recognised that to do otherwise in a recount would be chaotic and take far too long.”
In its editorial of May 5th, the state-run Chronicle boasted about the supposed recount that GECOM had authorised, “there will be a full, comprehensive, recount, and a thorough forensic audit.” But there is a more fundamental point that the caretaker government ignores, according to Datadeen, “To engage in anything except a recount of the ballots allows Alexander and his APNU cohorts to raise all manner of issues relating to the OLE and voters with no dispute resolution protocol in place – the recount process would be rendered paralysed.”
One of these issues, as highlighted concerns the propriety of any organisation auditing itself. While internal audits are standard for most organisations, these exercises are “usually used for internal purposes and asses such issues, such as control, governance and risk management processes within an organisation.” In fact there is need for an internal audit to discover what actually occurred with the tabulation of the SOP’s by Mingo on April 4th.
If the GECOM Commission felt it was necessary to have an audit of the ballots for the credibility of the March 2nd elections, it should have counted the ballots, declared the results – as was requested by the PNC after the 1997 elections, then an external auditor (or firm) would have to be retained as was Mr Ulric Cross in that instance.