Guyana: Director de Elecciones pide cinco meses para finalizar el conteo de votos y la Misión Electoral de la OEA dice que es “inaceptable”
Guyana pendiente del inicio sobre nuevo recuento de votos
La Comisión Electoral de Guyana (GECOM) volvió a invitar a la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom) a supervisar el recuento total de los votos de las elecciones generales del 2 de marzo pasado, cuando el país espera que se conozca la fecha para iniciar la nueva contabilidad de los sufragios..
A medida que pasa el tiempo para ofrecer el resultado oficial de los pasados comicios, la GECOM aún no ha establecido la fecha para realizar el recuento de los sufragios ni el mecanismo para llevar a cabo dicha acción.
No obstante, la invitación a la Caricom se produce cuando este miércoles estaba previsto el anuncio de la Comisión sobre el procedimiento y lugar del proceso del nuevo conteo, luego de las irregularidades surgidas tras los comicios.
La Caricom argumentó -cuando retiró a su misión de alto nivel – que había fuerzas políticas que no deseaban que los votos se contarán de nuevo.
La primera contabilización de los sufragios se suspendió, luego que la Corte Suprema emitió un fallo para detener el conteo en el distrito Demarara-Mahaica (Región 4), una de las zonas que otorga mayor número de votos.
Según el resultado de esa ocasión, encabezaba los resultados la coalición del presidente David Granger, Asociación para la Unidad Nacional y la Alianza para el Cambio (APNU – AFC), que buscaba la reelección.
Sin embargo, el candidato opositor del Partido Progresista del Pueblo (PPP), Irfaan Ali, acusó al Gobierno de realizar una fraude electoral.
El mes pasado, el presidente Granger, y el líder de la oposición, Bharrat Jagdeo, acordaron que un equipo de Caricom supervisara el recuento de las papeletas en las 10 regiones administrativas del país.
La Gecom ha dejado claro que la participación de Caricom sería sólo validar, diciendo que la presencia del equipo daría credibilidad al proceso aunque existe un fallo del Tribunal Supremo que considera “ilegal” la supervisión de la misión del ente de los países del Caribe.
El Director de Elecciones, Keith Lownfield, había propuesto inicialmente un plazo de 156 días para el proceso, pero después de otras reuniones de la Comisión, se esperaba que presentara un nuevo plan ayer martes.
Lowenfield aún debe completar un borrador inicial del plan operativo para el ejercicio de recuento.
La presidenta de GECOM, Claudette Singh, volvió a ser objetos de críticas la oposiciónm, ya que tiene el poder de ordenar que el proceso comience dada su urgencia.
Lowenfield recibió la orden de GECOM de revisar su propuesta anterior de 156 días y presentarla en la reunión estatutaria del martes. A pesar de esto, esta orden no se cumplió.
Uno de los comisionados de GECOM, Sase Gunraj, señaló que la Caricom aún no ha respondido y que los observadores hasta ahora no se han comprometido a regresar cuando comience el recuento.
Sin embargo, se mostró optimista de que un equipo Caricom de alto nivel volverá.
Recount logistics being dragged out over “inconsequential” issues by CEO – Commissioner
A formal decision to undertake a recount of the March 2, General and Regional Elections is unlikely before the end of this week given the number of modalities still to be finalised, including a site visit to the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield is still to complete an initial draft operational plan for the recount exercise.
The Commissioners were instead met with requests for further clarifications into proposals that were submitted at the end of last week by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
Speaking with media operatives outside of the Commission’s headquarters following Tuesday’s meeting, PPP Commissioner Sase Gunraj expressed disappointment at the fact that the electoral body was not closer to making its decision.
According to Gunraj, when the Commission met “we discussed the proposal that we prepared” when juxtaposed with the original submission by Lowenfield to have the recount done in 156 days.
“We thought that we were clear and that those discussion would then translate into an amended document from the Secretariat.”
This was not to be and according to Gunraj, “unfortunately the Secretariat claim to still need clarification so we did not get that renewed document today (Tuesday).”
Gunraj has since indicated that the clarifications were provided and that the operational plan is expected to be supplied today when the Commission resumes meeting to work out the modalities including a site visit.
Asked to provide some insight on what clarifications were being sought by Lownefield, the PPP Commissioner disclosed that these centred on issues such as the role of the Commissioners in the proposed process.
Gunraj dismissed the issues raised by Lowenfield as inconsequential and added, “that being said, I am disappointed we lost another day” and lamented that the Commission was still to work out when it would be doing its site visit.
This, he reminded, “is a very vital component of what we have to do” taking into account the social distancing and other requirements, a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Government-aligned Commissioner, Vincent Alexander told media operatives, bluntly, that he was not optimistic that a decision would be taken on the recount before the end of the week.
Speaking after Tuesday’s statutory meeting, Alexander said that the CEO wanted clarification on the nature of the proposed recount “which I thought we had long resolved.”
He said too, clarification was sought on the role of the Commissioners in the process.
According to Alexander, at present, the only hindrance to beginning the recount is to have the logistics ironed out since the Secretariat is adequately resourced.
Asked specifically about having a decision before the end of the week, Alexander responded saying “given where we are at today (Tuesday) it is doubtful that one can start this week.”
According to Alexander, there is still the fact that pertinent decisions with regard to the recount are still to be made based on a matrix of factors.
But even as the Commission continues with the back and forth with the CEO, the Chair of GECOM, Claudette Singh is coming in for great criticism again as she holds the power to order the process to start given its urgency.
Only on Monday, a local political analyst called her out, saying that the buck for the controversies Guyana finds itself in with its elections stops at Singh. The analyst noted that only Singh can salvage what is left of the process.
Since the elections were held over a month ago, a winner is yet to be announced. The majority of observers who scrutinised the tabulation process have pronounced it to have not been credible.
GECOM itself had come in for much of the criticism, with repeated attempts being made by Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo to subvert the process going unchecked by the Chairwoman.
Despite Singh promising that she would facilitate a recount, attempts to have the recount done at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) never took off because of delays, more controversy and ultimately, a member of the coalition party securing an injunction from High Court Judge Franklyn Holder against the exercise.
The injunction was then thrown out by the Full Court and the Appeal Court upheld this decision, leaving the way clear for GECOM to conduct its recount and finally determine a winner of the elections.
But when given a chance to draft a proposed plan for the recount, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield drafted one that said the recount would last 156 days.
After a firestorm of criticism, Lowenfield was ordered to return to the drawing board and revise his proposal. The plan is expected to be discussed again today by the Commission.
The Opposition-nominated Commissioners have since also submitted a more realistic proposal.
Statement of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission to the March 2 General and Regional Elections in Guyana
he Chief of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) to the March 2 General and Regional Elections in Guyana, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, remains concerned that, after more than six weeks, an accurate and credible result that would allow a duly elected government to assume office has not been determined. This is especially regrettable in light of the global health crisis that requires every government to take decisive actions and to be able to command the confidence of its people in order to mobilize them in thwarting the spread of the Coronavirus.
The political crisis in Guyana is not intractable. As the Mission had previously noted – and to the credit of all the stakeholders, especially the voters themselves – the casting and counting of ballots on March 2 was conducted in a peaceful and transparent manner. All that remained was for the count from each polling station to be accurately tabulated and declared. There is an abundance of evidence that this was not done in the case of Region 4 and this has led to the decision for the ballots in all ten regions to be recounted.
The proposal by the Chief Elections Officer that would have required five months to recount less than 500,000 ballots is unheard of in any democracy and would be unacceptable under any circumstances. The Mission notes that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has ordered that a revised timetable be prepared.
The Mission urges GECOM to ensure that the procedures for the recount are transparent and consistent, that the instructions to election officials conducting the recount are unambiguous and based on the provisions of the relevant laws and that the public be fully informed of the methodology to be used.
In particular, the Mission requests GECOM take particular care to ensure that:
• the officials to be engaged in the recount are selected based on their impartiality and those who have displayed partisan behavior are excluded;
• the duly authorized representatives of political parties and accredited observers are allowed to see (but not handle) each ballot;
• the legal provisions for challenging the determination of ballots are fully respected;
• an ascertainment is made as to whether the number of ballots cast corresponds with the number of persons recorded as having voted;
• the result of the recount for each polling station is compared with the Statement of Poll signed by the Presiding Officer.
The Mission remains engaged to assist the people of Guyana in ensuring that their will prevails and that Guyana’s position as an internationally respected democracy is restored and preserved.