Lawyer for one of the litigants in the vote recount case, Anil Nandlall, has urged that controversial Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, be excluded from the recounting process which is expected to commence soon, now that the Appeals Court has dismissed the case.
Nandlall, who is one of the lawyers representing Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in the matter, was at the time addressing the media following the Court of Appeal’s ruling on Sunday. He pointed out that Mingo is at the centre of many of the controversies that followed the elections.
“I believe that Mingo has demonstrated to the world and to GECOM that he must not be part of any electoral process, ever again, in the history of this country. He has tainted [the process] and the world saw him, declaring results from a piece of paper that bears no connection to the Statements of Poll and the ballots cast.”
“How can you entrust such an individual to be part of the process again? He is part of the problem; he is not the solution. We are looking for a solution. So, he must be removed, completely, from the exercise. That’s our position.”
According to Nandlall, Mingo is by no means indispensable since the Representation of the People Act provides for him to be replaced by his Deputy should the need arise.
He also urged GECOM to consider televising the recount. While it would be unprecedented, it would also clear doubt and remove the uncertainty that has accompanied previous tabulations by GECOM for the elections held over a month ago.
Nandlall described GECOM allowing Guyana and the world to watch the recount live as the hallmark of transparency and accountability. But he noted that Mingo’s role in the process may lead to further controversy.
After the General and Regional Elections were held on March 2, the tabulation process went relatively smoothly for all the regions. That is, until the process started in Region four, the most populous region in the country.
Strange things began happening as the tabulation got underway at the Returning Office at Ashmins building, with Mingo complaining of feeling unwell and being rushed to the hospital, his staff refusing to continue the tabulation for various reasons, a GECOM staff being whisked away by Police after surreptitiously going into a room with a flash drive and computer and eventually, the count being suspended.
Mingo then returned with a piece of paper and declared results over the objections of all the party agents present. That declaration was subsequently declared unlawful by the High Court, but Mingo would return to make another controversial declaration, this time at GECOM’s office in Kingston.
Prior to his second declaration, agents at the GECOM office complained of being impeded from observing the counting process. Mingo’s refusal to show agents the original Statements Of Poll (SoPs) is reported to have hampered the transparency of the process.
He then made his declaration and was whisked away under Police protection. Both of these declarations differed in numbers, were reportedly not tabulated from the official SoPs and have been rejected by everyone except A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC).
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 the Government.