GECOM legally bound to declare winner based on recount, no room for “discretion” – Datadin

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Attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin (Devina Samaroo photo)

Now that the national recount of votes cast in the March 2 General and Regional Elections has been completed, the role of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is limited to declaring the winner in accordance with the results of the recount process; and nothing else.

Attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin, expressed this view during a local programme on Kaieteur Radio, where he outlined clearly that only the Courts can pronounce on issues of credibility of an election, adding; “GECOM is a statutory body and is obliged to comply with the laws.”

“Once the citizens vote, and you have figured out what their votes are by counting their ballots, GECOM has no discretion,” Datadin, a Candidate for the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), argued.

Datadin outlined that GECOM has “absolutely phenomenal powers, but those powers only extend to administering the elections.”

He insisted: “GECOM cannot take a position that it cannot declare a winner. GECOM knows what the count is.”

The Attorney further cited Article 177 2 (B) of the Constitution which speaks to the “deeming provision”. He explained that this provision meant that as long as the votes have been counted and tabulated, the Presidential Candidate who heads of the List with the most votes is deemed the President “and GECOM shall declare that”.

“It wasn’t that GECOM will go and consider what they think they need to consider,” he argued.

“That is the way it is, when you lose an election; one side feels very down and one side feels very up; that’s the history of the way elections go,” he expressed.

Datadin agreed with many of the legal experts that complaints about irregularities in an election must be taken to a court by way of an elections petition since, “it is only a Judge that has the power to annul an election or to reverse a declaration.”

During the recount exercise, the APNU/AFC Coalition had raised a number of allegations which were proven to be false, most of which still ended up on the controversial ‘observation reports’.

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, is expected to present his report to the Commission for deliberation by June 13 and the Commission would then have no more than three days from which to declare a winner.

GECOM Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and Chairperson Justice (Rtd) Claudette Singh

The preliminary tabulated figures have so far placed the Opposition –PPP/C with a commanding lead over the incumbent APNU/AFC coalition.

The PPP/C is projected to take 33 of the 65 seats in Legislative Assembly, while APNU/AFC will take 31 seats. The remaining one seat is expected to be held by the Joinder Alliance comprising the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM).