People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Commissioner to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Sase Gunraj, has accused the APNU/AFC of using the issue of COVID-19 to delay the recount process.
Pointing to the seven-week delay since the Guyanese electorate cast their ballot, the GECOM Commissioner lamented that “we are unable or perhaps unwilling to deliver credible results to the people of this nation and that is unacceptable.”
According to Gunraj, “that puts it as a national crisis not dissimilar to COVID so it should be treated with the same dispatch and given the same level of importance as COVID is given…it is a national emergency as COVID is and due regard should be given for that”.
Gunraj said that, GECOM as an independent constitutional body, was not obligated to seek permission from the National coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Task Force, chaired by Moses Nagamootoo, with regard to the modality for the recount of the March 2 ballots cast at the General Elections.
He was adamant that “GECOM is an independent body, GECOM is a constitutional body not different from the Supreme Court or not different from the other rights commission, etc”.
Gunraj qualified his reference to the court and noted that the body, in recognition of its independence, made its own provisions and noted that it has, in fact, published in the Official Gazette—more than once—practice directions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained saying “the court recognises its power and their powers are no different or no more superior than that of the GECOM and we have the power to direct our procedure and the guidelines by which we will operate”.
Asked to speak to the fact that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General had enquired about the COVID-19 measures in place to protect its officials, Gunraj told media operatives he had no difficulty with assurances being given.
He continued, however, “what I have a difficulty with, is that the issue of COVID-19 is being over-utilised as a method of tethering this process and that is what I have a difficulty with.”
Gunraj nonetheless welcomed the recommendations made by the members of the COVID-19 Task Force along with the Commissioners and Chairperson for a site visit of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.