Guyana Elections: GECOM can correct Lowenfield’s actions – Jagdeo

Bharrat Jagdeo
Bharrat Jagdeo

While President David Granger has endorsed the controversial move by Chief Election Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield to discard 25% of the votes cast at the March 2 polls, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) could still rectify the situation.

“What is even more powerful is the constitutional role of the Commission…Lowenfield was hired by the Commission and the constitution of Guyana says that they can intervene and take any act necessary of expedient to ensure impartiality fairness and compliance,” Jagdeo told an online public briefing yesterday.       

“What Lowenfield did is not impartial, it is partial. It took a victory for the PPP/Civic and gave it to APNU. It is not fair and the Commission has the authority to correct it. And so [while] Granger believes the Commission is bound to accept the report of Lowenfield, he is simply wrong, and I hope he is advised in that regard,” he added.

He also emphasised that ultimately the decision to declare the results lies solely in the hands of GECOM. “It is the Commission that makes the decision, not any court. Not the CCJ or the Court of Appeal in Guyana. They will not make the decision for the Commission. The Com-mission is the only body that can make the decision and declaration of the results,” he further said.

Jagdeo’s briefing was in response to statements made by Granger during an interview on Mark Benschop’s radio station on Monday evening, where he was a guest.

During the interview, Granger said that the incumbent APNU+AFC continues to insist that the elections be decided not just on quantity of votes cast but on the quality of those votes.

“What we have found is that there is need for a deeper investigation into the anomalies and the irregularities that occurred countrywide. This has been done and has been a feature of the report the CEO presented to the Commission,” he maintained, before adding that “It is quite in order for the Chief Election Officer to rule that invalid votes cannot be counted as valid.”

He further declared, “It is unacceptable for the CEO to present a report that doesn’t take into account the fact that these irregularities have occurred and have affected the validity of the votes… this is the reason why the Court of Appeal ruled votes must mean valid votes. If votes are fraudulent or if votes exceeds the number of persons on a list they cannot be valid votes.”

Granger was making reference to unproven claims made by his party during the national recount of votes.

Lowenfield last week submitted a report to GECOM which discards over 115,000 votes and he has claimed that he has acted lawfully in doing so. He has yet to explain the criteria used to invalidate the votes.

Granger, who has repeatedly stated that he will accept the results declared by the Chair of GECOM Claudette Singh, attempted to argue that the Commission was bound to make a declaration based on Lowenfield’s report rather than the certified results of the recount. Singh has said that the recount results will be used and she had instructed Lowenfield to prepare such a report. Lowenfield defied her and eventually presented his own version which triggered consternation from CARICOM Chair Mia Mottley, who with other CARICOM leaders had brokered an accord between Granger and Jagdeo for the recount.

Endorsed

Jagdeo noted that while the president endorsed Lowenfield’s actions, he did not once discuss that the actions were being done fraudulently to declare the APNU+AFC as winning the 2020 polls, invalidating some 115,000 votes or quarter of the 2020 electorate.

He said that the actions of APNU were duplicitous and questioned what would have been the outcome if the situation were reversed. “If it was the other way around, would APNU have accepted that one person could unilaterally invalidate the votes from a full quarter of persons who voted? They would have never accepted that because there would have been trouble in the streets,” he added.

“Twenty five percent of the electorate will lose their vote simply because Lowenfield won’t follow the directions of the Commission. They would have never accepted that… the PPP with just a 4,000 difference walked away [in 2015],” he said.

Jagdeo said that he wanted to wait until after today’s Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) hearing to respond to Granger but felt the urgency to rebut much of what was said because of the events which have occurred here since the March 2nd elections. “So much that Mr. Granger spoke about last night was factually wrong and in many cases downright misleading,” he said.

As he expressed his disquiet, Jagdeo said that even as the president accused his party of fraud, he did not once acknowledge or refer to the attempted rigging of the elections by embattled Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, who is believes is “the primary source of the fraud that led to the delay in the declaration of the results”.

And when the president spoke of the CARICOM observer team’s report, saying that persons need to read the document in its entirety, Jadgdeo said that the very report says that it found that the recount results credible and a basis for the declaration of the results.

“Mr. Granger then goes on to conveniently to ask people to read the entire CARICOM report and I wonder if he read the entire report because the report he agrees with made it very clear in its finding in conclusion finds a credible basis for the declaration of the results,” he said. “He read one section where they spoke about when needs to be done in the future and he ignores the rest…it is not for Lowenfield to invalidate votes,” he added.

And where the president said that he will abide by the constitution and court and await the ruling, Jagdeo said that he does not believe him.

“There are many things Mr. Granger said here that looks good on the face of it but he has said many of those things before and never respected what he said. For example, abiding by court decisions or abiding by the constitution,” Jagdeo said.
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