The jury is still out on whether GECOM will deliver credible election results, notwithstanding the widespread demands of the international community and a broad cross-section of Guyanese. In any rational society, the entire membership of GECOM would have resigned due to its failure to honour its constitutional responsibilities. By resigning GECOM would be demonstrating its collective responsibility for its failure to complete the elections, even though all members may not bear equal responsibility.
The counting of the District 4 ballots, which occasioned such controversy, as well as a court decision deeming its resulting declaration to be unlawful, and a resumed count from which diplomats of the major countries of the world walked out amidst loud and vulgar threats, did not elicit any disciplinary measures against the delinquent staff members. The same CEO, who promised after complaints, that he will instruct that results are read from the statements of poll for District 4, after the statements of poll were substituted for a spreadsheet, is the same CEO who will be in charge of the recount, due to start at some time in the future.
When the blatant violation of the law in the counting of the ballots for District 4 took place, and the promise of the CEO was made to have it rectified, and the breaking of that promise took place, and the resumed counting took place, and a fraudulent declaration was made, the Chair of GECOM was in the building, and did nothing and allowed it all to happen. A court case declared the counting and declaration to be unlawful. But then the Chair sat by while an equally challenged method of resumed counting took place at Kingston, the head office of GECOM.
In new contempt proceedings, the Chair undertook that if the results of the count of District 4 varied from the statements of poll of political parties, she will order a recount. By this time the entire GECOM must have been aware that under the Constitution the results are required to have been officially declared within fifteen days of the elections. The failure of GECOM to deliver the results in accordance with the Constitution, leading to its violation, is sufficient justification to assert that GECOM has failed in its constitutional responsibility and is adequate reason for GECOM to do the honourable thing.
The Ulita Moore challenge to the “supervision” of the elections by Caricom was quickly dismissed by the courts in sufficient time for GECOM to complete the recount of all ten districts agreed to by President Granger and Leader of the Opposition Jagdeo and for Parliament to be convened by April 30, four months after its dissolution, as required by the constitution. Today is April 26 and a date for the start of the recount has not yet been announced. For the second occasion in less than two months, GECOM has dropped the ball. It has been directly responsible for a second violation of the Constitution. Its actions, or rather omissions, are responsible for a government holding de facto power, in a time of great national and international crises due to the elections and covid 19 pandemic, when the government ought to have long been out of office and a new government, whether of the APNU+AFC or of the PPP, managing the affairs of the country.
The egregious failures of GECOM are causing great panic in large sections of the population. Many believe, and are on the lookout for the unfolding of events, which will reveal more plots and strategems to either engineer a false declaration once again or to derail the recount completely. And many are deeply troubled at any interventions, or lack thereof, that the CEO might make or omit to make. The presence of the heads of missions at Ashmin’s Building did not prevent loud and aggressive hostility displayed by a prominent APNU member which neither APNU officials not the Police did anything to stop. This, together with APNU’s challenge through Ulita Moore of the Caricom sponsored Aide Memoire signed by President Granger and Leader of the Opposition Jagdeo, and the Police expulsion of Commissioner Gunraj from the Ashmin’s Building, without any assurances from GECOM that these acts will not recur, lead to the conclusion that the presence of a high level Caricom team will do nothing to prevent a repetition. The failure of the Chair to speak to these issues says volumes.
Unfortunately, GECOM has now become the major battlefront for free and fair elections. But on this occasion, for the first time since 1992, GECOM’s officials have publicly displayed partiality in favour of the governing party by its officials deliberately violating the law in the counting of the ballots for district 4 and then allegedly doing it again. The international focus on Guyana’s elections and threat of sanctions by no less than the Secretaries of State of the US, the Foreign Secretary of the UK and of the EU are due solely to the actions and omissions of GECOM. But up to the present time, there has been no acknowledgment, actual or implied, of responsibility, and no promise that it would do better.