APNU+AFC Media Release
For immediate release
Friday, June 26, 2020
Statement on the political and electoral situation in Guyana
The Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana [at Article 177 (4)] provides, expressly, that: “The Court of Appeal shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question as to the validity of an election of a President in so far as that question depends upon the qualification of any person for election or the interpretation of this Constitution; and any decision of that Court under this paragraph shall be final.”
The Constitution of Guyana [at Article 177 (2)] provides, further, that “[the] Presidential candidate shall be deemed to be elected as President and shall be so declared by the Chairman of the Elections Commission acting only in accordance with the advice of the Chief Election Officer, after such advice has been tendered to the Elections Commission.”
The Court of Appeal of Guyana, pursuant to an action brought by a private citizen, Eslyn David, on Monday 22nd June 2020, held that the words “more votes” in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana means “more valid votes”. This ruling vindicated the insistence of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition that only valid and credible votes must determine the outcome of the General and Regional Elections which were held on March 2, 2020.
The Court of Appeal determined that a final credible count as contemplated by Order No. 60 of 2020 does not mean a mere numerical tabulation of votes but an assessment of the credibility of votes as contemplated by the Order.
The Gazetted Order No. 60 of 2020 provides specifically: “the Guyana Elections Commission, in exercise of the authority vested in it under Article 162 of the Constitution and Pursuant to section 22 of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act No. 15 of 2000, seeks to remove difficulties connected with the application of the Representation of the People Act [Chapter 1:03] in implementing its decisions relating to the conduct of the aforementioned recount of all ballots issued with the ballots cast, destroyed, spoiled, stamped and as deemed necessary, their counterfoils/stubs, authenticity of the ballots and the number of the voters listed and crossed out as having voted; the number utilized, statistical anomalies, occurrences recorded in the Poll Book”.
This sets out the modus operandi for the Elections Commission (GECOM) for the validation of votes in the recount exercise.
The Representation of the People Act [Chapter 1:03 of the Laws of Guyana, at Section 96] requires the Chief Election Officer (CEO) to ascertain the valid votes cast in an election.
In keeping with the guidance set out by the Court of Appeal in Eslyn David v. Chief Election Officer, et al., and as he is required to do by the Representation of the People Act [at section 96], the CEO prepared and submitted his Election Report on 23rd June 2020.
That report shows clearly that the APNU+AFC Coalition received 171,825 and the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) received 166,343 of the valid and credible votes cast at the General and Regional Elections.
The CEO, clearly, is empowered and instructed by the Constitution and Laws of Guyana, not by any other entity or person. He has discharged his functions within the ambit of the law.
The recount process revealed a plethora of grave irregularities. The recount was intended to determine both the quantitative and qualitative nature of the votes cast at the General and Regional Elections and to determine “a final credible count”. At the end of the recount it became manifest that the results disclosed did not meet the standard for credible elections.
The Elections Commission recorded anomalies, discrepancies and irregularities, the scale, size and scope of which were revealed only through tabulation and observation during the recount. These include:
– ballots cast in the names of persons who are dead or had migrated;
– ballots cast by persons without proper identification;
– ballots cast exceeding the number of persons on the Official List of Electors;
– ballots for one electoral district cast in another;
– ballots cast by persons outside of their districts without requisite employment documents;
– ballots and counterfoils carrying the same number;
– ballot boxes from one polling station containing documents of another;
– ballot boxes with no single statutory documents;
– ballots improperly stamped at locations where members of the disciplined services voted; and
– poll books which are missing.
The Elections Commission investigated instances of voter impersonation and was provided with the relevant immigration records and death certificates by the competent statutory authority confirming that certain persons in whose names votes were cast were dead or were not in the jurisdiction on the date of the General and Regional Elections on 2nd March 2020.
The Report of the CARICOM Observer Team on the Recount of the Guyana 02, 2020 Elections of 13th June 2020 acknowledged the occurrence of these anomalies discrepancies and irregularities in its Report, notwithstanding that the team assessed only 18 per cent of the ballot boxes.
The Report of the Chief Election Officer on the Recount Exercise is a substantial report which assessed all the 2,339 ballot boxes.
The APNU+AFC Coalition has iterated its preparedness to abide by the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Representation of the People Act which provides for the declaration of the Elections Commission.
The APNU+AFC Coalition calls the public’s attention to the comment of former Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice Professor Duke Pollard in the Guyana Chronicle newspaper of 11th June 2020 asserting that the Elections Commission is bound to produce credible elections results and that it cannot submit to the country information which lacks integrity: “If the information provided for the outcome is not credible, then the outcome itself could not be credible.”
The APNU+AFC Coalition calls on the public to respect the Constitution and laws of Guyana. As directed by the Court of Appeal, GECOM must act, exclusively and only on valid votes cast in the March 2, 2020 elections.