Justice Navindra Singh on Tuesday had the case filed by one of the constituency candidates in Berbice for the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to have the names of 50 persons who claimed to have been tricked into signing an Alliance for Change (AFC) nominators lists to contest the Local Government Elections (LGE) dismissed.
According to the Opposition, the 50 persons of the Whim/Bloomfield Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) had their names fraudulently affixed to the backers’ lists for LGE in the Ancient County.
The court document names Shafraz Beekham as the applicant, along with the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and Orlando Christopher Persaud as the respondents.
In handing down the ruling, Singh stated that after investigations, he did not find any evidence to convince him that the nominators were forced to sign the list.
As such, he had the case dismissed stating that the names will remain on the original list.
PPP were challenging on the grounds that the said decision was unlawful, illegal, and unreasonable and was in violation of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act.
The document filed at the High Court cited the individual’s alleged refusal to withdraw the applicant’s name and the names of 49 other electors. It said unless the names were withdrawn, the election in the Local Authority Area would be tainted with “illegality and fraud”.
Beekham, of Letter Kenny Village, Corentyne, was the first person to come forward with the allegations against the AFC. Following his outcry, several other persons also came forward with the said accusation.
In a sworn affidavit, Beekham, who is a registered elector on the Official List of Electors for Constituency Number 3 in the Whim/Bloomfield NDC said he and others were “deliberately deceived into signing a document by an Alliance For Change representative who he claimed fraudulently represented that she was employed by GECOM and that he needed to sign a document to confirm that his name was on the voter’s list.
“I am informed and do verily believe by the other electors in the community that they were told that they would benefit from better roads, jobs, better pension and rehabilitated playgrounds and were also deceived into signing,” he stated in court documents.
He said too that it was only after Nomination Day on September 21, 2018, that he learnt that the signature which was taken from him was unauthorisedly used as a nominator backing the AFC candidate in constituency Number 3.
According to him, at no time whatsoever was he or the other residents informed, or did they know that they were in fact signing a list of backers in support of the AFC candidate(s).
Beekham said on becoming aware of what was perpetuated against him and other electors, he immediately demanded that their names be withdrawn or deleted from the AFC lists.
However, Beekham eventually learnt on September 28, that Persaud had refused to withdraw his name and that of the 49 other electors from the lists submitted by the AFC.
Meanwhile, in a statement on the ruling the PPP, among other things, posited that “electoral democracy and the citizens’ right to vote in Guyana suffered yet another blow today.”
The Party is contending that “a Police Report submitted to Justice Navindra Singh in the High Court in Berbice totally misrepresented what the residents of the Whim/Bloomfield Local Authority Area claimed they told to the Police during interviews that were supposed to be used to compile that report.”
The Judge had ordered a Police Report into allegations made by over 50 (fifty) persons that their names were procured by misrepresentation and trickery on lists supporting AFC candidates.
The persons who were present in Court explained to the media after the Court hearing that the Report did not accurately reflect what they said to Police Officers who interviewed them.
This was confirmed by officials of the PPP/C who were present when these interviews were conducted by the Police.
The PPP is contending that the “Police investigation and the ensuing Report were perverted by and contaminated with political interference.”
“Despite the fact that the Report was clearly tailored to meet a particular conclusion, it still contains various damning statements: for example, all of the persons interviewed and whose names are on the AFC list of backers made it absolutely clear that they did not know that they were signing any document supportive of the AFC; that they are not supporting the AFC and that they all requested that their names be removed from those particular lists” said the PPP.
In the end, the Party noted that “no matter how much you turn it or twist it, the bottom line is these AFC candidates have 50 (fifty) persons who are on public record saying to the world that they are not supporting the candidates they are supposed to be backing. Yet the Court refused to interfere with this violation of these persons fundamental right to support a political party of their choice by removing their names from those lists.”
Local Government Elections are scheduled to be held on November 12, 2018.