Attorney-at-law, Sanjeev Datadin says that the will of the Guyanese people remains hostage to the actions of the Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, whose declaration of votes for that region was found to be null and void. The situation is further compounded by the “inability” of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to “sensibly resolve chaos caused by his actions”, the opposition-aligned lawyer said.
In a missive, Datadin said that democracy is the right of citizen to pick their leaders and despite the electorate going to the polls on March 2 to pick a President, the process remains incomplete after two months.
“More than 2 months later our electoral body, GECOM, after spending more than $8 billion to ensure a free, fair and transparent election was undermined by A Returning Officer, Mingo, determined to declare fantasy numbers. The money spent, the presence of international and local observers, the diplomatic corps and a Court Order didn’t stop him,” Datadin said.
He went on to say that while the recount was agreed upon by the Leader of the Opposition and the President, David Granger, Government-nominated commissioners at the GECOM “have raised every possible hurdle and employed every delay tactic possible to not have that recount take place”.
Datadin noted the move to have an electoral audit done instead of a recount. This audit, being sought by government-aligned Commissioner, Vincent Alexander – Datadin says – ignores Section 89(2) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) that expressly states “the returning officer shall not open the sealed packets containing tendered ballots, the marked copies of the official list of electors … or counterfoils of used ballot papers.”
Admitting that the recount is under GECOM exercising its constitutional (Art. 162) and statutory powers and not the RPA, the edict of RPA should not be easily ignored.
” What happens if a polling clerk made an error and did not cross of all the names who voted or was having lunch and missed a name ? How is this to be resolved ? Do we trust Mingo and his gringos to resolve it? Do we expect [Chief Elections Officer, Keith] Lowenfield and [Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne] Meyers to get an attack of morality and resolve it fairly ? The RPA codified the restriction because it was recognized that to do otherwise in a recount would be chaotic and take far too long,” he said.
Datadin added that the opening of the “packets” is usually under the authority of a Court in an Election Petition.
“These restrictions should not be easily ignored. We must recognize that Alexander is only insisting on it because of the confusion it will likely cause and the length of time it will take. Alexander also sought to rely on s.90 of the same RPA to deny live streaming of the recount. He affords himself the luxury to rely on the RPA when it suits him and ignore it otherwise,” Datadin declared.
The opposition candidate said that to engage in anything except a recount of the ballots allows “Alexander and his APNU cohorts” to raise all manner of issues relating to the Official List of Electors and voters, and with no dispute resolution protocol in place, the recount process would be rendered paralyzed.