Nation anxiously awaits GECOM Chair’s decisions on recount

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GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh

The nation is waiting with bated breath as the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh is expected to make her decisions today with regard to the modalities to be adopted for the recount of the votes cast in the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

Commissioners Vincent Alexander and Sase Gunraj have indicated that Commissioners from both sides of the political divide were able to present a summation of the proposals for the recount.

These include a proposal by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Commissioner Gunraj for the recount to be done using 20 workstations in as little as 10 days.

Additionally, there are proposals by APNU/AFC’s Alexander for the use of eight workstations in addition to the original proposal by the Secretariat for the activity to be completed in 156 days.

Commissioner Sase Gunraj

In briefing media operatives, Commissioner Gunraj related that the Chairperson “has heard all of the submissions made by both sides of the table”.

“I believe that I have justified all of my proposals; I’d want to suggest that the other proposal have been articulated to her and she, I believe, is capable and I am confident in her ability to make the right decision,” Gunraj said.

Asked whether the Chairperson would be choosing from one of the proposals or try to come up with a consensus based on those proposals, Gunraj told media operatives “the Chairman has the final say in this and we expect her to do so”.

APNU/AFC’s Commissioner Alexander had said that Justice Singh, during the meeting, had related that Caricom representatives in their communication with GECOM had expressed concerns over the use of 20 workstations in light of the COVID-19 measures.

Commissioner Vincent Alexander

He said that it was explained that the concerns over the stations saw their genesis in the fact that 20 counting stations would require the presence of a minimum of 300 persons, “this is a concern that I had raised”.

When asked about the decision to be made by Justice Singh, Alexander posited that it was not a case of choosing one proposal over another and that the Chairperson could come up with a document that supported compromise or consensus.

On Wednesday, following the site inspection of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Justice Singh expressed the view that the recount could be completed before the deadline for the convening of the next parliament, which incidentally is April 30, since Parliament was dissolved on December 30, 2019.

Importantly, she had also sought to dispel any worry that the previous declarations would be used. Justice Singh had noted that once a decision is taken to do a recount, the previous declarations are no longer relevant.

On Thursday, PPP/C General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, urged the Chairman to do what is necessary to move the vote recount process forward and utilise all measures to enhance transparency of the process.

PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo

Jagdeo lashed out at GECOM for the long delays which have prevented the vote recount from moving ahead. He accused the APNU/AFC Commissioners and others within the elections machinery of using “delay tactics”  to frustrate the elections recount.

“The Chairman needs to wake up and take decisive action” to ensure the process moves ahead. She needs to end the charade,” he said.

Jagdeo restated his party’s position, that is; all ten regions could be completed in ten days, starting with District Four.

Since the General and Regional Elections were held more than six weeks ago, a winner is yet to be announced. The majority of observers who scrutinised the tabulation process for District Four have pronounced it to have not been credible.