After being locked in a meeting from 10:00hrs to around 16:00hrs today, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)has once again failed to finalize a start date and an order of methodology for the recount of ballots cast in the March 2 General and Regional Elections. Briefing the media this afternoon, Government Commissioner, Vincent Alexander said that most of the meeting was spent rehashing the work plan for the recount.
Commissioner Alexander said that the finalization of a date for the recount to commence, will depend on the arrival of the high-level CARICOM team. Earlier today, GECOM’s Public Relation Officer, Yolanda Ward said that the Secretariat is awaiting further communication from CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, with regards to the travel arrangements for the observer team.
Asked to give an update on the preparation of the order, Commissioner Alexander said that PPP/C Elections Commissioner, lawyer Sase Gunraj was tasked with submitting a draft order. But, according to Commissioner Alexander, that draft order was submitted some 10 to 12 hours later than promised by Gunraj. The Government Commissioner said that he and the other Commissioners have had the opportunity to peruse the draft order, and he has tabled an amended one.
According to Commissioner Alexander, the Commission is still divided on the order. He, nevertheless, emphasized that the order is critical to the recount and hopes it is resolved tomorrow, when the Commission is scheduled to have another meeting. He also said that finalizing a start date for the recount exercise will highly depend on the arrival of the high-level CARICOM team.
Speaking with reporters, Gunraj disclosed that discussions were entertained as it relates to the duration of the recount exercise.
“I am pushing to have a duration fixed for this process because it is unfair to all concerned to have an open-ended process. The discussion is that the duration cannot be determined. But I believe if we set a duration for the process and we take steps to fit within that duration we can have some progress. But if we leave it open-ended, it will be just as that and cause issues and cause opportunities to have this process delayed.”
According to Gunraj, Commissioners were asked to do a “rough calculation” for the duration of the recount exercise. However, he is of the view that when one does a rough calculation, the process can more than well run into one month which is unacceptable because the people of Guyana deserve better.
Further to that, Gunraj related that Commissioners are still awaiting specific decisions from GECOM’s Chairperson Justice retied Claudette Singh as it relates to the removal of certain persons from the recount process, particularly Region Four’s Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.
He added, “The Chairman has said that she is of the opinion that some of the officers are statutory officers and she is not inclined to remove those persons at this time. I disagree with that position but I must say and I remain adamant that certain persons ought not to participate in this process particularly the Returning Officer Mingo who has brought us to this position.”
He said that no decision has been made as yet as it relates to particular personnel who will be conducting the actual recount exercise. No decision, he said, has been made by the Chairperson with regards to live streaming the recount process, among others.