By Alexis Rodney
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (DPI) – The long-awaited national recount of the March 2, general and regional elections will get underway on Wednesday, May 6. This was confirmed by Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Vincent Alexander.
Emerging from an hours-long commission meeting Sunday evening, Alexander said the operational plan and final order for the recount are completed, with the Order set to be gazetted on Monday, after the issue of live streaming is further addressed.
Although a decision was already taken on the matter, GECOM’s Chairman Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh will on Monday make a pronouncement in writing to commissioners, in what is expected to be the final say on the matter.
However, Alexander said the chairman is leaning towards an audio broadcast instead of a live stream, as she has chosen to “lower the tempo of aggression” displayed in the media including social media, especially towards her.
Amid the continuous regurgitation by opposition commissioners, of issues already decided on, Alexander said the chairman’s pronouncement today encapsulated what was previously resolved.
That includes the intermittent broadcast of the process. Justice Singh also expressed the desire to have the ballot boxes viewed when they are out of the containers so that persons can confirm that there was no tampering with the seals.
Commissioner Alexander meanwhile, addressed what he said are some “troubling things” being expressed by the opposition side.
He said the recount is being conducted under Section 22 of the Representation of the Peoples’ Act (RPA) and Article 162 of the Constitution. However, there are persons who are trying to “use” 162 of the Constitution and Article 22 of the RPA at their convenience.
“There is no provision for streaming in any of the legislation. So if we are talking about streaming, we can only go to 162 of the Constitution and the RPA 22 which gives the commission latitude. (But) the very people who have agreed to the use of the latitude are also seeking to object to the very latitude for other things,” he told the media Sunday evening.
“So, the question on what we do in the recount continues to be a red herring and there are those who are still suggesting, notwithstanding the decision, that we should do a numerical count, while they are shouting transparency. And so the question arises, you are screaming transparency, you are using the latitude of 162 and 22 to call for streaming, but then you want to take away that streaming when it comes to how we conduct the count.”
Alexander said if the opposition wants to be transparent, there should be no issue.
“What is it you want to hide in relation to matters such as taking the list which was used at the place of poll, on which list names were struck off, to determine how many persons turned up to vote and then check the actual ballots to see the correlation between the number of persons recorded and the number of ballots in the box. What is the difficulty in that and transparency? Why do you try to go to the RPA to exclude that and want and use 162 and 22 to include other things?” he asked.
The Commissioner said there is the recognition that should that be done, the probability of disparities between what is struck off on the list and what is in the box will surface. According to him, “people do not want this to be known. And so, we have a very difficult situation, where there seems to be an agenda of what is being pursued [by the opposition]. But at the end of the day, we have finalised the plan and order but for that one thing.”
The commission meets Monday to finalise the process.
Department of Public Information, Ministry of Communities.