Using its powers under Article 162 (1) (b) of the Constitution, former Speaker of the National Assembly, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran explains that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) could have reversed the two unlawful declarations by Region Four’s Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo.
“…article 162(1)(b) of the Constitution provides clear and convincing authority for the Commission to have stopped the Returning Officer (“RO”) for Region 4, Clairmont Mingo, in his tracks. He attempted to ascertain the votes cast for each list, not by Statement of Polls but by spreadsheet. The Commission could have undid what the RO unlawfully did, namely, make two declarations of the votes cast for Region 4 not relying on the Statement of Poll,” the Senior Counsel said in his most recent writings.
Article 162(1)(b) of the Constitution says that GECOM, “shall issue such instructions and take such action as appear to it necessary and expedient to ensure impartiality, fairness and compliance with the provisions of this Constitution or of any Act of Parliament on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties connected with or relating to the matters aforesaid.”
Against this backdrop, Senior Counsel Ramkarran explained that once Mingo began to use a spreadsheet in ascertaining the votes for each list of candidates in Region 4, in violation of section 84 of the Representation of the People Act, which requires him to use the Statements of Poll, GECOM should have stopped him.
But Ramkarran stressed that GECOM failed to intervene even after he twice made clearly unlawful declaration of the results. Senior Counsel Ramkarran also sought to remind that Mingo’s first unlawful declaration was challenged before the Chief Justice.
What is unfortunate, he noted, is that the role of GECOM’s and its powers under Article 162(1)(b) of the Constitution did not engage the attention of the Chief Justice.
Had the case been framed, or the opportunity taken, to engage the Chief Justice on article 162(1)(b) and, pursuant thereto, had she given clear views on the powers of the Commission, clarity may have prevailed and the Commission guided, the former House Speaker wrote.
“But I was not in the case, do not fully understand the issues and difficulties, and am now writing with 20/20 vision.”
On the question of whether GECOM has the power to order a recount, Senior Counsel Ramkarran insists that it certainly does.
He said that while the issue is now one for the court to determine, it certainly does not appear that the President and Opposition Leader were usurping the function of GECOM.
“They were in fact deferring to its authority and to those of the Constitution, laws and court decisions,” he adds.
With regards to the aforesaid, Senior Counsel Ramkarran who is also the Presidential Candidate of A New and United Guyana (ANUG), is referring to the Aide Memoire signed by the President and Opposition Leader for a high-level Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team to supervise a national recount of votes.
According to him, the Aide Memoire states: “That the High Level Team would operate within the framework of the Constitution, the applicable law, the role of GECOM and the rulings of the Court; That Terms of Reference for the role of the High Level Team must be prepared by the Commission.”
In light of all the foregoing, Ramkarran said,..” with or without the Aide Memoire, [GECOM] has separate and independent powers under the Constitution and under sections 84 and 88 of the Representation of the People Act to order a recount. The applications by several contesting parties for recounts under section 84 were wrongly rejected by the RO. Those can be corrected even at this stage by the Commission.”