US Govt recommits to ensuring “transparent, credible” recounting process

By Guyana Times,

General and Regional Elections

With preparations ongoing for a national recount, the United States has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that the process is transparent and credible.

This is according to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, during a press conference on Tuesday morning.

He commended the courts in Guyana for paving the way for the recount of all the votes cast at the General and Regional Elections over a month ago on March 2, 2020.

“I also like to commend Guyana’s High Court for clearing the way for a nationwide recount of that country’s recent national elections… We look forward to working with their Elections Commission and the international observer community to ensure that that process is free, fair, transparent and credible,” Pompeo stated.

His comment comes in light of a recent decision by the Appeal Court to uphold the Full Court’s ruling that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is entitled to conduct a recount to ensure the transparency and credibility of the elections results.

APNU/AFC candidate, Ulita Moore, had obtained an injunction from the High Court to block GECOM from conducting the Caribbean Community (Caricom) brokered recount last month.

However, the Full Court dismissed the injunction that was granted by High Court Judge, Justice Franklyn Holder, noting that any challenges to GECOM’s decisions will have to be brought via an elections petition, which can only be filed after the declaration of elections results.

Moore and her lawyers subsequently moved to the Appeals Court to set aside the Full Court’s ruling, but was unsuccessful, thus paving the way for the Elections Commission to go ahead with the recount.

In fact, Chairperson of GECOM, (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh, had already decided last week to go ahead with the national recount of all votes cast on March 2, and the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield has been tasked with coming up with a work plan on how the recount will be conducted. He is expected to present that plan when the seven-member Commission meets today at 11:00h.

The US has been at the fore of international pressure, calling for a recount to be done to accurately reflect the will of Guyanese, who exercised their franchise over a month ago and are yet to get “credible” results.

The North American powerhouse had even warned of serious consequences and sanctions if a new Government is sworn-in based on flawed elections results.

In fact, Secretary Pompeo had previously cautioned, “…it’s important to note that the individuals who seek to benefit from electoral fraud and form illegitimate Governments, regimes will be subject to a variety of serious consequences from the United States.”

After an almost “smooth” voting day, the declaration of results for nine of the electoral districts were completed but the tabulation of the Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) results was mired in controversy and “credible allegations” of fraud by most of the political parties that contested the March 2 elections – and even by both the local and foreign observers that had monitored the contentious process. They had all called for a recount.

This resulted in the intervention of the Caricom Chairperson, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who fielded a five-member independent team to supervise a national recount that was requested by caretaker President David Granger and agreed to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. However, the regional team was forced to withdraw their services after the Moore injunction was filed, blocking GECOM from conducting the recount.

With GECOM now preparing for the vote recount, it is likely that the Commission will reach out to Caricom to have either the same team return or another team fielded to observe the recounting process.

In fact, GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander told reporters on Monday that they are looking to have the regional bloc involved in the process to bring credibility and validation to the recount.