GECOM begins moving ballots to venue for national recount
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday morning began moving more than 400,000 ballots from its headquarters at Kingston, Georgetown to the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal where the national recount is expected to begin on Wednesday.
The first two or more than 12 shipping containers left GECOM’s headquarters, Kingston at about 9:01 AM under tight escort by heavily armed police from the Tactical Services Unit (TSU).
Representatives of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and other small parties witnessed the departure.
The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield was among GECOM officials who were in the yard supervising the movement of the recount exercise.
The recount is expected to take at least 25 days under the scrutiny of a three-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team, political party representatives and GECOM officials.
President David Granger on Monday welcomed the arrival of the CARICOM to team to witness the recount process, but he made no mention of international observer missions like the Carter Centre whose request for permission to return to Guyana has been, according to the American embassy, been refused. “I am pleased to learn that a CARICOM High-Level Team has arrived in Guyana to observe the recount process in response to the Commission’s request. The Elections Commission must be allowed to do its work in accordance with the Constitution,” he said.
Granger maintains that the elections were “free, fair and orderly” and that he will accept the results based on GECOM’s declarations to allow for a democratically elected government to take office. Local and international observers and opposition political parties have all said the tabulation of the votes in Region Four were not credible and transparent, and they all warned of international sanctions.
Before the departure of the observer missions from Guyana days after the March 2, 2020 general elections, Foreign Affairs Minister, Karen Cummings had gone to the Region Four Returning Officer’s Office and signaled that their accreditation could have been withdrawn.
GECOM has decided to hold the 10 declarations, which it says are “legal”, in abeyance until the recount is completed. The Recount Order that was published in the Official Gazette on Monday provides for the seven-member politically divided GECOM to decide whether the data from the recount should be sent to the Chief Elections Officer for him to compile a report and send it back to the Commission for the eventual official declaration of a winner.
CARICOM observer team for Guyana elections recount arrives
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Observer Team for the recount of Guyana’s Regional and General Elections arrived in Guyana Friday afternoon.
The three-member Team is led by Ms. Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), and includes Mr. John Jarvis, Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission and Mr. Sylvester King, Deputy Supervisor of Elections of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They were met on arrival by the CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General for Foreign and Community Relations Ambassador Colin Granderson.
Ms. Barrow-Giles was a member of the High-Level Team that came to Guyana last March to participate in a scheduled recount which had to be aborted. The other members of that Team are unavailable for the present mission. Both Mr. Jarvis and Mr. King participated in the CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission for the Elections held on 2 March 2020.
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados, in a Statement issued on Friday ahead of the arrival of the team for the recount, said:
“The Community calls on all concerned to ensure a credible and transparent recount process, in order to provide legitimacy to any government which would be sworn in as a result. This process must be completed without further delay.
Opposition political parties reject GECOM, NCN staff solely controlling live streaming
The major opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and seven of the other small parties that contested the March 2 elections are vehemently objecting to the decision of the Guyana Elections Commission to allocate the live streaming responsibility for the recount to the State-owned National Broadcasting Network (NCN) working in conjunction with staff from the GECOM Secretariat. Director of Department of Public Information, Imran Khan The national recount, which is expected to last for a minimum of 25 days, commences today at 08:00h and is being conducted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) located at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, from where it will be streamed.
But the opposition parties are insisting that at least one private broadcasting entity should be involved with the live streaming.
According to the parties, the State media as a whole has been giving very partisan, sycophantic coverage to the PNC-led APNU/AFC Government since they took office but this has been ratcheted up after the elections process grounded to a halt when embattled Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo corrupted the tabulation process on March 4, in favour of the coalition. This led to the acceptance by the GECOM Commission that a recount of the ballots needed to be conducted and live-streamed to the public in order to instil some confidence in the process given a widespread feeling of ‘betrayal’ following the actions by RO Mingo. Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers Typical of the blatant bias by the State media, it was pointed out is the editorial in Monday’s edition of the Chronicle newspaper – another State-owned entity – that the coalition’s demand for the recount to be an audit had been accepted by the GECOM Chair when in fact it was not.
The opposition parties believe that to place sole responsibility for a process that demands integrity and impartiality cannot be at the sole discretion of a proven biased entity. At a minimum, they insist the Government mouthpiece should be joined by one of the independent broadcasting entities that have the capability to conduct the live streaming. Arthur Chung Convention Centre Meanwhile, Public Relations Officer at GECOM, Yolanda Ward on Tuesday revealed that the recount process will be streamed on the Election Commission’s Facebook and YouTube pages as well as on its website at www.gecom.org.gy
According to the recount order published by GECOM on Monday, provisions are made for each of the 10 workstations to be equipped with facilities to capture and broadcast a picture of the ballot box depicting the state in which it is delivered to the workstation.
In addition, there will be an audio stream of the recount of the ballots, while the tabulation process will be live-streamed.
During the course of the 25-day recount, the Railway Embankment between UG Road and Conversation Tree, Bel Air, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 06:00h daily. This closure became effective on Tuesday until further notice.
Persons proceeding to the Caricom Secretariat at Turkeyen, and persons residing to the east of the Convention Centre will be given access to enter the Embankment from UG Road, while those residing to the west will be given access from Bel Air.
Additionally, the compound of the Aquatic Centre will be used to facilitate parking for the observers, agents and other officials.