Caretaker Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s issuance of instructions to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) that seek to limit their attempts to conduct a timely recount, has sparked outrage from Commissioner Sase Gunraj, who has since criticised the move.
In response to a request for guidance from GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, Nagamootoo had instructed the constitutional body that it must restrict its recount to the hours of 6 am to 5 pm and that it must not extend the recount past the 6 pm curfew.
Nor is that all, as Nagamootoo had also warned the body that all persons, including observers, who are permitted special entry into Guyana for the recount must be quarantined for 14 days. Also, GECOM was directed to allow technical experts from the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) to do site visits and assess the arrangements put in place for social distancing.
While Gunraj was not surprised at Nagamootoo hindering rather than helping the process, he noted the necessity of GECOM not playing along with this game. According to him, the GECOM Chair has played right into the hands of the “forces” that do not want a recount. In fact, he had drafted a missive to Justice Singh warning her of this.
“After receiving the now infamous email, I drafted a document that has not yet been released. It contains the following paragraph: ‘It should be noted that the tenor of the decision and the consequences likely to flow from it clearly panders to the ‘forces’ averse to the conduct of the very process and the very ‘forces’ responsible for the derailing of the electoral process so far.”
Gunraj acknowledged the seriousness of the coronavirus, but posited that with political will and personal protection equipment (PPE) the recount can be carried out in a transparent and timely manner.
When Caribbean Community (Caricom) Chairwoman Mia Mottley had departed Guyana last month after a high-level team to supervise the recount was prevented by an injunction, she had alluded to forces in Guyana who do not want the votes counted. According to Gunraj, the forces have now struck again.
It has already been over a month of controversies and a credible winner for the 2020 General and Regional Elections is yet to be declared. After two declarations from Region Four’s (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, which lacked transparency, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and caretaker President David Granger had agreed to have Caricom oversee the recount.
That agreement was derailed when A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) candidate, Ulita Moore, moved to the courts and secured an injunction against the exercise.
That injunction was discharged by the Full Court and later, the Full Court’s decision was upheld by the Appeals Court. GECOM has since re-invited Caricom, although there is no word on whether they will accept the invitation.