Guyana Elections: The Four Steps towards Swearing in of New Government

 Jun 18, 2020 – Kaieteur News – By Ruel Johnson

These steps  are now delayed due to Court of Appeal hearing seeking to stop declaration, because of issue regarding “Valid Votes”

On Tuesday, GECOM Chair Claudette Singh directed Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield to prepare and submit a report “pursuant to article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act Chapter 1:03’.

The Certificate of Tabulation for District (Region) Four for the General Elections is below. It should be noted in the top two highlighted areas that the term “Valid Votes” is used; that GECOM certified, as highlighted in the middle, the tabulation; even though, as highlighted in the lower part of the document, APNU+AFC decided not to sign off. It is these certificates, for both general and regional, that Lowenfield is compelled to apply a formula and allocate seats.   

That single instruction was the final act triggering a series of steps that will lead us to the swearing in of Irfaan Ali as the 9th Executive President of Guyana. The list that preceded him consists of, in consecutive order: Forbes Burnham; Desmond Hoyte; Cheddi Jagan; Samuel Hinds; Janet Jagan; Bharrat Jagdeo; Donald Ramotar and de facto current president, David Granger.

Today (June 18) at 1 pm is the deadline that Lowenfield has to submit that report. In our article, below, Kaieteur News outlines the next steps ahead.

Step One – The CEO’s Report

In her letter to Lowenfield, Chairwoman Singh asks that the GECOM CEO prepare his report “using the results of the recount”, one that is in keeping with Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act.”
This is what section 96 of the Act says:

“96(1). The Chief Election Officer shall, calculating the total number of valid votes of electors which have been cast for each list of candidates, on the basis of the votes counted and information furnished by returning officers under section 84(11), ascertain the result of the election in accordance with sections 97 and 98.

(2) The Chief Election Officer shall prepare a report manually and in electronic form in terms of section 99 for the benefit of the Commission, which shall be the basis for the Commission to declare and publish the results under section 99.”
What this means, is that this is a simple arithmetical issue in which he applies a pre-established formula to the valid votes cast, as established by the recount in order to allocate both parliamentary (general) and regional democratic council (regional) seats.

There has been deliberate misinformation as to what the numbers will be on this report, with reference being made to the alternate figures Lowenfield had offered in his previous submission made last weekend. The argument has been offered that the CEO’s opinion on what constitutes a valid vote, based exclusively on the unsubstantiated claims made by APNU+AFC, can be used as the basis for declaring the election. This is wrong.

The establishment of valid votes has already been established by virtue of the certified tabulations of each region as signed off by competing parties during the recount process. It is these votes that Lowenfield has to report on and this constitutes his advice as defined in Article 177 of the Constitution.

Step Two – Consideration by the Commission

Article 177 speaks to what happens “… after such advice has been tendered to the Elections Commission at a duly summoned meeting.” Step Two of what happens next has to do with that meeting.

With the CEO compelled to deliver his report, the Commission meets either today or tomorrow latest for that “duly summoned meeting” to review and deliberate upon that report. They will examine it for compliance with the relevant legislation and, more importantly, for accuracy in the calculations.

Here the political nature of the appointments of the commissioners is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, partisan vigilance can result in preventing deliberate miscalculation of seat allocations – for example, in the 2011 elections, government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, had highlighted a miscalculation in the seat allocations by then Chief Elections Officer, Gocool Boodhoo. Boodhoo’s initial calculation would have awarded an extra seat to the PPP at the expense of the Alliance For Change (AFC). If Boodhoo’s error, which Alexander has said was intentional, was allowed to stand, not only would the AFC have gotten only six instead of seven seats, but that one seat would have been enough to assure the PPP a parliamentary majority. Instead, the AFC was given its full complement of seats and the PPP was, for the first time in twenty years, denied a parliamentary majority with the combined opposition gaining 33 seats.

On the other hand, an absence of representation on the Commission means that such vigilance is not necessarily extended to non-represented parties. In 2006, Boodhoo reportedly made a similar ‘error’ with an AFC seat in Region 10, wherein the calculation gave the seat to the PPP. With no representation on the Commission and that being the party’s first election, the error was only noted after the declaration.

Step Three – Declaration by the Chair

After the deliberation by the Commission, the Chair is then required to make the declaration in favour of the Presidential Candidate whose list has gotten more votes than any other list, according to Article 177 of the Constitution. In the case of the 2020 elections, the candidate whose list has secured the most valid votes, according to the certified tabulations of the recount, is Irfaan Ali.

The PPP has been calling Ali “President-Elect” but he is not yet technically so since it is only after the Chair’s declaration, he becomes effectively the President of Guyana, or the President-elect. That said, there is no legal barrier currently that stands in his way, the tabulated results, having been certified, showing him as 15,000 votes ahead of the incumbent. Granger still remains the de facto President, however, meaning that for the short time between declaration and swearing in, Guyana will have two Presidents.

Step Four – Swearing In

The next step is the swearing in, in keeping with Section 97(1) of the Representation of the People Act. This section reads:

“A person elected as President shall assume the office of President upon being elected but shall, before entering upon the duties of the office, take and subscribe the oath of office, such oath being administered by the Chancellor or such other Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature as may be designated by the Chancellor.”

This is when Ali will become the President with full powers afforded to him. When Ali is sworn in, David Granger will no longer be President and all his ministers, as a consequence, no longer ministers.

While there is no prescribed time between declaration and swearing in, the precedent is usually a matter of hours. For example, in 2015, the elections were held on May 11, with David Granger being sworn in as President on May 16, the same day that the results were declared. With the CEO report to be completed today, Guyana should have a new President sworn in before the new week, if not some time tonight, depending on when the meeting at step 3 is held and the declaration coming out of it is made.

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  • guyaneseonline  On 06/19/2020 at 1:45 am

    Hearing of Notice of Motion set for Friday June 19

    The Notice of Motion served on Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield preventing him from submitting his final report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for deliberation will be heard Friday, June 19 at 13:30 hours at the Court of Appeal.

    GECOM’s PRO Yolanda Ward updated the media today, noting that the commission’s meeting which was scheduled for that time has been postponed.

    The CEO, along with Commission’s Chair Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh was served by Court Marshals today, minutes before the CEO was expected to submit his final report to the seven-member commission at 13:00hrs.

    The final report is expected to guide the Commission’s Chair towards a final declaration of the results of the March 2, General and Regional Elections.

    Private citizen Eslyn David through Attorney Mayo Robinson, filed an injunction in the Court of Appeal today, to prevent the CEO and the Guyana Elections Commission from making a declaration of any results of the March 2 elections.

    The court application says that GECOM has failed to act in accordance with the terms of the Order No. 60 of 2020 and the amended Order dated the 29th day of May 2020 and has failed to determine a final credible count and or the credibility of the result of the General and Regional Elections.

    It seeks to also restrain the CEO from complying with the Direction of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission as set out in a letter dated the 16th day of June 2020, to submit to the GECOM an Elections Report under Article 177 (2) ( b) of the Constitution of Guyana without the commission determining the final credible count and or the credibility of the General and Regional Elections.

    The application is also asking that the CEO be restrained from submitting to GECOM, an Elections Report under Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 96 Chapter 1:03 of the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA), containing votes that are not credible within the meaning of Order No. 60 of 2020.

    On Tuesday, Justice Singh instructed the CEO to prepare a report in accordance with Section 96 of the RPA and Chapter 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution, for the commission’s consideration before the declaration.

    The APNU+AFC Coalition has however been steadfast in its belief that only votes proven to be credible should form the basis of an official declaration of the final results of the March 2, polls.

    The CEO’s report which was submitted to the commission on Saturday for its consideration detailed what he surmised to be an election that was not credible. Lowenfield said the thousands of anomalies rendered over 200,000 votes invalid. Only 40 percent of the total votes cast were reported to have been untainted.

    “The CEO cannot declare anything other than valid votes and in his determination of valid votes, we will wait to see those reports of the CEO reflected in the way those votes are tallied,” the Coalition’s Co-Campaign Manager Joseph Harmon stated in a televised statement. (DPI)

  • Kman  On 06/19/2020 at 1:37 pm

    One effed up country,only the rich and connected are benefiting. All Guyanese must rise up and demonstrate and take charge of running the country for the masses.



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