Owen Arthur Slammed for Comments on Guyana Elections Results
Submitted by Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)
On Thursday Mr. Clairmont Mingo, the Returning officer of Election District 4 – Demerara/Mahaica, declared the much anticipated election results for his District. The results established that incumbent APNU+AFC coalition won the March 2, 2020 general elections. Earlier in the day the opposition PPP released a document with purported results showing a PPP victory, bearing inflated votes for that party in polling stations within Region/District 4. Upon closer examination, the document was dated February 29, 2020, an indication that it was generated in some form two days before the March 2, 2020 elections. When citizens began questioning the date of the document on social media, it was pulled and the date changed to March 5, 2020 and republished.
The declaration had been previously disrupted multiple times by a mob of PPP executives and other known street thugs who, armed with guns, under the cover of dark night stormed the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) District 4 office demanding access to GECOM’s computer equipment. Later in the day said individuals kicked down the door to the Chairman of the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM), Justice Claudette Singh. The presence of violated the Laws of Guyana Chapter 1:03 (91). CGID is appalled that the Guyana Police Force allowed this invasion of GECOM’s office to occur. Overseas observers have failed to condemn this hooliganism and lawlessness from the PPP. Some observers, including James Carter III from the Carter Center, appear to be coordinating with the PPP.
In response to the District 4 declaration, Mr. Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados, who is Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Mission falsely stated that the “tabulation of the final election results has not yet been completed and verified according to the established procedures and relevant legal and statutory provisions.” Mr. Arthur is obviously uninformed of the laws of Guyana and the constitutional powers of GECOM. This statement is consistent with PPP talking point. CGID questions Mr. Arthur’s objectivity. He is a longtime associate of Bharrat Jagdeo who should never have been accredited by the Commonwealth.
Mr. Arthur and his team cannot dictate to GECOM or interfere with its work. He and his team are departing from an observer mission to intruding and interfering in Guyana’s electoral process in favor of the PPP. Guyana’s elections laws mandate a specific procedure for challenging actions and declarations of GECOM. That process does not entail complaints to and coercive missives from observers. It requires the filing of an elections petition in the court.
CGID notes that in 1997 the PPP government used the exact process to declare the elections results. In that election, then PPP hacks at GECOM secretly declared and certified the PPP winner, and secretly swore in Mrs. Janet Jagan as President. When a marshal of the Supreme Court attempted to serve Mrs. Jagan with an injunction from then Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, Mrs. Jagan threw the court order to the ground and proceeded to be sworn in. PPP leaders, including Bharrat Jagdeo, argued then that the courts cannot interfere with GECOM and its processes.
CGID therefore asks, if GECOM in 1997 could have declared results in favor of the PPP without a specific public verification procedure, what prevents GECOM from doing so in 2020? If the courts had no power to interfere in GECOM processes in 1997, why the PPP is seeking the intervention of the court in GECOM’s processes in 2020.