The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) met with political parties on Saturday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the proposed site of the recount.
There, the parties united in calling for various measures, including live streaming, to make the recount more transparent. Conspicuously absent were Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and his Deputy, Roxanne Myers, who reportedly had a personal matter to attend to and as such were unable to be at the meeting.
The meeting went ahead nevertheless and the parties were able to raise their concerns. Chief among their concerns was the issue of live streaming. GECOM Chairwoman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh had previously voted against a motion sponsored by Commissioner Sase Gunraj, for the complete live streaming of the event.
On Saturday, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) representative at the meeting, Anil Nandlall emphasised the importance of the event being live-streamed. He pointed out that GECOM is not a private enterprise but rather, one that operates in the public interest and, therefore, more transparency should not be an issue.
However, the calls for increased transparency were rejected by A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), whose representatives at the meeting included David Patterson, Joseph Harmon and Amna Ally.
Meanwhile, Nandlall noted that concerns were also raised over the handling of security at the venue. According to him, the Guyana Police Force ought not to be solely entrusted with security at the venue, but rather, another agency should assist the police.
He pointed out that the Guyana Police Force has previously acted unprofessionally, such as when they sought to put out Gunraj, a GECOM Commissioner, from the Region Four Returning Office at the Ashmins building during the original count.
When it comes to Lowenfield being given the power, according to the work plan, to resolve disputes, Nandlall was less than happy. He lambasted the CEO for his absence and noted that his party lacks confidence in this provision.
Besides the two major political parties, representatives from The New Movement, Liberty and Justice Party and Change Initiative were present. Also, in attendance was A New and United Guyana’s Chairman, Timothy Jonas.
Rejected transparency measures
It turns out that not only was APNU/AFC opposed to live streaming the event, they also requested the restriction of cellphone use. Coalition representative at the meeting and AFC executive, David Patterson said that “GECOM has made a statement that they’re not live streaming. Therefore, persons should not be going on live streaming [particularly] GECOM staff, without their permission. That’s the point persons were making. You wouldn’t like someone coming into your workplace and videoing you without your permission.”
“If you say you can’t stream people live and GECOM has signed on to that, then that is for everyone. If you say you can do it live, then persons can do it but their consent has to be obtained first.”
Patterson claimed that the calls for live streaming the recount were nothing more than something to “name and shame”.
He also accused the PPP of planning to challenge the recount in court when the recount order is gazetted. This accusation was sharply rebuffed by the PPP in a subsequent statement.
According to the party, it has no plans to block the recount from starting and moreover, they reminded that it is APNU/AFC which has the track record of blocking the recount through its candidate, Ulita Moore, in the first place.
When it comes to Patterson’s explanation for why APNU/AFC is opposed to live streaming, the PPP dismissed it as asinine. They questioned why a live-streamed recount, done by GECOM staff, would be hazardous to them.