Following is a letter by political commentator and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram, in which he called on caretaker President David Granger to concede defeat in order to restore his credibility and the dignity of the Office of the President.
Fifteen weeks following the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, it seems that the process is coming to a close. This is despite the release of two conflicting reports submitted to the Guyana Elections Commission within the space of two days: the first by the Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield who has a statutory function under the Representation of the People Act and the other by the CARICOM Scrutinising Team.
Guyana owes a debt of gratitude to the three individuals who slogged away for thirty three days without interruption or any sign of flagging to help restore trust in our electoral system. President Granger praised them as “the most legitimate interlocutor on the Guyana situation” and the members of the team as competent to produce work of an international standard. Granger publicly expressed the wish that he would like them to succeed.
It was clear that Keith Lowenfield went way outside of his remit as set out in the recount Order and made findings and conclusions that had no legal basis, even though his report was endorsed by no less a luminary than Attorney General Basil Williams.
I want to believe that Lowenfield made an innocent mistake in failing to understand what a summary is or the scope of his report. Mr. Lowenfield is not an attorney and is probably not aware of the provisions of Article 163 which makes the High Court the exclusive arbiter of matters relating to elections. More troublingly however is that Lowenfield felt it was in his power to disenfranchise close to 275,000 voters or 60% of those who voted. He does not understand the principle of presumption of legality and the onus and burden of proof. Had he been better advised those legally elementary mistakes could have been avoided as well as the ridicule being thrown at him.
The Caribbean Scrutinising Team has now made Lowenfield’s report into a series of amateurish mistakes and it is now up to GECOM how to reconcile the two. Both reports are now being “deliberated on” by GECOM whose chairperson coincidentally is a retired judge.
Despite the origin of their appointments, she and the other six commissioners are under oath to honour, uphold and preserve the Constitution. She more than they would recognise that they do have a fiduciary obligation to the electorate and to conduct themselves without fear or favour, affection or goodwill.
As it is the Commission are rank political appointments under an independent chairperson. It would be truly unfortunate and unhelpful to our democracy if the chairperson is forced to use a casting vote and it would go some way in restoring trust in the factions of the electorate if the chairperson can persuade her fellow commissioners to avoid a vote and rather come to an agreement by consensus. As a long-standing Judge she no doubt has years of experience in the adversarial court system and persuading rival sides to compromise.
But there is one person who carries and even greater role and influence and that is the APNU+AFC Presidential candidate David Granger. The elections were hard fought but it is time to bring it to an end. It is in the nature of competitive politics that one side seeks to persuade the electorate that it is more deserving of their vote than the other side. While defeat is always painful, it must never be dishonourable and Granger will go a long way in restoring his credibility and the dignity of the high office he holds if he would call the PPP/C’s presidential candidate to congratulate him, wish him well but signify to him that the Opposition is a legitimate part of the head table called the National Assembly.
Granger must rest assured that all the young people whose voices came to the fore were fighting not for the PPP/C but for democracy. One thing that now seems certain, screw up and the electorate will not hesitate to remove you.
The impending end of the electoral cycle solves only one of our country’s problems. We still have to deal with the coronavirus and now we are told that our Treasury is empty. The World Court will soon be engaged in our long-festering issue with Venezuela.
Our differences should end at our borders and both President-elect Irfaan Ally and outgoing President Granger as nationalists must both work towards the preservation of our sovereignty and territorial wholeness.
There is a lot resting on the shoulders of the GECOM commissioners and they need to put political differences aside and put Guyana first. But with Granger rests the opportunity and the duty to place the national interest over partisan interest.