Head of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Elections Observer Mission (OASEOM), Former Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding told the OAS Permanent Council today, that Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, has added tremendously to the four-month electoral impasse in Guyana, when he refused on a number of occasions, to utilize the results coming out of the recount process.
He made this assertion during his presentation on the “political crisis” in Guyana. The meeting was called for by the OAS General Secretary, Luis Almagro. Comments were made by Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Karen Cummings; Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams; former AG, Anil Nandlall; Opposition Prime Ministerial Candidate, Mark Phillips; and Senior Diplomat, Ron Sanders.
Golding told the Council that there was a significant number of allegations relating to voter impersonation made by the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) during the recount process.
He added that these allegations were mere unsubstantiated claims.
“Neither the OAS Observer Mission, nor any of the other accredited observers who visited polling stations on Elections day – hundreds of polling stations I must point out – have reported any significant instances of objections based on impersonation made by the polling agents of the APNU+AFC Coalition – who were present in most, in not all, polling stations,” he said.
He went on to tell the Council that Lowenfield, in his June 13th report, awent beyond his mandate and adjudged that over 200,000 votes were invalid based on those “unsubstantiated” claims.
“By the stroke of his pen, he discarded 60% of the ballots that had been counted and recounted. He adopted the specious methodology of discarding every single vote in those ballot boxes were unproved allegations of impersonation had been made,” he said.
Golding told the council that there are only two stages at which ballots can be set aside before the results of the elections are declared: at the polling station, where the ballots are first counted; and during a recount, if one is conducted.
Beyond that, the invalidation of any ballot is the sole prerogative of the High Court pursuant to an elections petition, that can be filed only after the results are officially deserved, the EOM Head said.
Golding reiterated that the recount figures must be used to declare a winner of these elections. This view, he openly expressed to the OAS General Secretary, Luis Almagro.
“Elections are held to determine the will of the people, and once the people’s wishes are clearly stated, they must be upheld. The people of Guyana have been patient for much longer than can be reasonably expected, while they await the results of a process that was by all account, welcomed on elections day. They should be commended for this. They deserve peaceful transition of government based on the majority of votes reflected in the recount and in support of democracy and the rule of law,” he stressed.