Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Today acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire is expected to hand down her ruling on Elections Petition (88) challenging the results of the 2020 Elections as declared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). As society expects to hear this decision, and optimism is expressed by both sides the judgment will be in their favour, the reality will inevitably be otherwise. One side is asking the High Court to rule GECOM did not abide by established rules as outlined in the Constitution and Election laws, the other side is asking the Court to throw out the petition. It is unlikely the Court will rule in favour of both.
With certainty, it could be said that whatever the judgement, this case is far from settled. There will likely be an appeal to the Court of Appeal and possibly the Caribbean Court of Justice. Realistically it will be some time before finality is brought to the petitions. In the interim, the society, particularly Government and Opposition, must push GECOM to sanitise the Voters List. Without exception, all international observers have raised serious queries about the size of Guyana Voters List vis-à-vis its population size. With a population of approximately 750,000, a Voters List of approximately 640,000 is highly unrealistic.
There must be a new Voters List before Guyana goes into another election, whether it be Local Government, General and Regional Elections. GECOM should also do serious review into the role they played during the last Election, including Order 60 of 2020, and the quality of election, including the declarations, delivered to society. Though the Election Day process may have had minimal interruption in citizens being able to cast their ballot, revelations in the Recount Exercise raised serious queries.
In an actual recount process not insisting on a standardised approach in counting votes, where such influenced addition or subtraction, in a Proportional Representation system is problematic. What was unearthed in those ballot boxes are enough cause for concern that in some polling stations the Representation of the People Act was not followed, polling staff got away with doing as they please, and thereby influenced outcomes not consistent with the law.
GECOM must review its E-Day compliance with the law. It would be a serious disservice to Guyana, the electoral system, and voters, if GECOM does not accept where it made mistakes and seeks to fix these. Free and fair election requires the process complying with laws throughout, in all ten districts, in all the hundreds of polling stations, and by all the polling staff. Those that have failed to comply should know they will be held accountable, and this accountability from the polling station with the polling staff.
There is much work to be done and critical introspection if GECOM is to regain some semblance of credibility and universal acceptance that it is capable of delivering free and fair elections. Elections petition addresses the legality of what was done during the process on a specific day but not the actual operation of the election which GECOM is responsible for and must fix.