‘Onus on GECOM Chair to act’ – PPP/C PM Candidate

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PPP Prime Ministerial Candidate Mark Phillips and Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali

Following the unanimous decision on Thursday by the Court of Appeal, the onus is now of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice Claudette Singh, to act urgently in declaring the results of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

This is according to Prime Ministerial Candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), Brigadier Mark Phillips, during a virtual interview programme titled ‘Government in Transition’ on Thursday evening.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the challenge brought by APNU/AFC supporter Misegna Jones, and upheld Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George’s recent ruling that the National Recount exercise is valid, and that the decision taken by the GECOM to use the Recount figures as the basis for a final declaration of the March 2 polls  must be adhered to.

In the ruling handed down by Appellate Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud, along with High Court Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, it was asserted that the proceedings filed by Jones is an abuse of the court system, since many of the issues raised were previously dealt with in other litigations filed during the protracted electoral process.

According to Phillips, the CoA’s ruling was clear and definitive and hence, there is nothing preventing GECOM from declaring a winner and bring the long-delayed electoral process to an end.

“As far as I see it, there is no other obstacle and the onus is now on the Chair of GECOM to call a meeting as early as possible and to proceed fearlessly towards finality, because that is what all of the people have Guyana have been waiting for”.

The former Army head bemoaned the fact that citizens have been waiting patiently for close to five months to have the party they voted for assume the reins of power, adding that this unnecessary delay cannot continue any longer.

“So I do hope that in the shortest possible time, GECOM can now act. Because the only thing left now is for a declaration (of the results) of General and Regional Elections 2020,” Phillips urged.

The PM Candidate also pointed to President David Granger’s commitment on Thursday to accept the declaration by GECOM without any conditions and said that the nation will hold him to his words.

“We all have to wait now and see if he will stick to what he has said.”

However, Phillips cautioned that while the President has given his commitment to accept the results without any conditions, the PPP/C has taken note of others within the APNU who are sending conflicting and dangerous signals.

He referenced the contradicting statement made by Coalition Campaign Manager, Joseph Harmon, whom he said is bent on pushing the false narrative about ‘valid votes only’, even though the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has already pronounced that votes tabulated during the recount process are all valid except and until an elections court decides otherwise.

With a few of the hardcore APNU elements giving conflicting positions regarding acceptance of the results, Philips said: “There is likely to be some implosion within APNU…but we have to keep our eyes on Mr Granger and hope that he sticks to his word.”

APNU/AFC Presidential Candidate David Granger along with other members of the coalition at a campaign event in 2020

Phillips added that the APNU/AFC’s request for a ‘stay’ “was just a bluff” as he is certain that the Coalition would be embarrassed to return to the CCJ since the apex court had already ruled on these very matters.

Meanwhile, the PM Candidate lashed out at APNU/AFC-aligned Trade Unionist, Lincoln Lewis, for incorrectly using the term ‘regime change’.

He contended that Lewis is misusing the term since “regime change” means the replacement of one administration or a government by another, especially by means of military force.

“We don’t have regime change here…what we have is a government that was voted out of office, through a democratic process, that it what we have in Guyana,” Phillips declared.

The national recount has confirmed that the PPP/C has won the March 2 polls with in excess of 15,000 votes.