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By Aubrey Norton
There is a clear conflict between the Chairman of GECOM and the Chief Elections Officer who are supposed to work together and have been doing so until recently. The departure from cooperation in an otherwise harmonious relationship stems from the type of respect that each is displaying towards the Constitution of Guyana. What is good is that the tension in the relationship is not driven by a personality conflict. This means that the problem between the two can be resolved easily and their working relationship effectively rebuilt.
The tension between the two interlocutors has intensified with the ruling issued by the CCJ last Wednesday. The CCJ noted in its judgement that Order 60, which produced results that the Chairman seems wedded to, was in tension with the Constitution of Guyana. It further noted that any Order issued by GECOM in any particular context can never determine how the Constitution should be interpreted. Yet, the Chairman of GECOM insists on this breach in the request that she is making of the CEO for the advice that he must give her. The CEO is defending the Constitution in a clear embrace of the Pledge of Allegiance while to the horror of many the Chairman is not.
The CEO, a former military officer, has taken the defence of the Constitution seriously and is seeking to remain obedient to the laws of Guyana as he understands he must from his responsibilities circumscribed in the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance. His most recent conduct in advising the Chairman as he is doing are reinforced by the words of the CCJ in the judgement that it issued on July 8, 2020 about the jurisdiction of the Court. Germaine to the dispute is the personality given to Order 60 by the CCJ. The CCJ made clear that an Order issued by GECOM “in any particular context can never determine how the Constitution is to be interpreted”. The words “in any particular context” might have slipped by the Chairman of GECOM since it must be understood that while the CCJ was speaking about Order 60 governing the recount, those remarks apply to any order from any part of GECOM, including from the Chairman, that contradicts the Constitution.
The CCJ reminded everyone in the judgement that it was only information furnished by Returning Officers that can be used to declare a winner. The Chairman is willfully ignoring this fact to the detriment to the rule of law in this dear land. The CCJ also took the time to point out that even if the result to declare a winner was gotten as a result of any “unlawful act”, it was unaffected by Order 60. In making that observation, the CCJ also made it obvious that the only way to undo any unpleasant or unacceptable result of the election is by an election petition. Unfortunately, the Chairman of GECOM is seeking to take matters into her own hands in violation of the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance. By insisting on what she knows is wrong, the Chairman is thumbing her nose at the rule of law and digging herself a hole. She needs to stop digging and let good reason prevail. She must stop carrying the burden of politicians and remain impartial.