News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tues. July 21, 2020: Guyana enters the milestone 140th day today since voters went to the polls to elect a new government on March 20, 2020.
But to date there is still no election results as another round of court battle continues and the brouhaha looks set to return to the Caribbean Court of Justice, (CCJ), all over again.
On Monday, Acting Chief Justice (ag) of the country’s High Court, Roxane George-Wiltshire ruled that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) endorsed the recount of votes and that the ten old declarations from March 13 cannot be “resurrected” as she threw out a case filed by another supporter of the incumbent A Partnership For National Unity/ Alliance For Change, (APNU/AFC).
Justice George ruled that the recount results arising out of Order 60 are valid as already decided by the CCJ, while stating that the submissions by the applicant, Misenga Jones, are “hopelessly flawed.” Jones wanted the GECOM Chairperson, Claudette Singh to be prohibited from using the results of the national recount to declare a winner.
The CJ said that Chief Election Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield is not a “lone ranger” and has to come under the direction of GECOM and its Chair. She said that there can no longer be an impasse between the CEO and Chair. The CJ also said that the CEO is not a constitutional officer, that status resides with the GECOM Chair.
Lowenfield has thrice defied the GECOM Chair’s instruction to deliver the recount results to the Commission.
But despite the loss again and the CJ’s ruling, Jones’ Attorney Roysdale Ford said he will file an appeal in the Court of Appeal in Guyana today. Given the last Appeal’s court ruling in favor of the government supporters, legal scholars are already predicting the matter could end up back at the CCJ’s doorsteps.
That would be another in a string of global embarrassment for the party and its dwindling support base, fighting to hold on to power at all costs, as the CCJ justices were clear in their ruling on July 7, 2020 that stated that Chief Election Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission, Keith Lowenfield, must produce his report as already directed by Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice Claudette Singh based on the results of the validated recount.
At the time, Justice Adrian Saunders was scathing in his concern that the election process has gone on for too long. No one, he added, could be satisfied with this state of affairs.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is seeking to make a declaration of the March 2 polls based on the certified recount results which shows that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes.
Other Caribbean nations, including Suriname, St. Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla and the Dominican Republic have all held elections long after and declared their results.
The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) is to set meet and consider the state of the electoral process in Guyana today, July 21 at 14:30 EDT and is being held at the request of the Secretary General, Luis Almagro. The OAS meeting will be broadcast live – with interpretation in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese- on the OAS Website and the OAS Facebook page and the OAS YouTube page.
The OAS is among international bodies that have observed the elections on March 2.
Meanwhile, despite the election drama and visa revocation by the US of several “individuals who have been responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Guyana,” Exxon Mobil says it is pushing ahead with its exploration efforts off Guyana. The company confirmed that it had reactivated the drillship Noble Tom Madden after operations were previously disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are also prioritizing key exploration opportunities along with appraisal wells to further understand the resource base in our three offshore blocks (Stabroek, Canje and Kaieteur),” spokesman Todd Spitler said. “We will adjust the pace of our development projects and exploration activities given the current environment.”
The company did, however, say it expected to see delays to Payara, the third phase of its development offshore, due to delays in regulatory approvals because of the country’s disputed elections.