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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall SC, appearing on his recent Television/Facebook programme announced the Government will launch a probe into alleged “erroneous immigration and registration data of citizens ending up in the hands of a political party, back in 2020, which was supplied to [Guyana Elections Commission] GECOM” in the 2020 National Recount Election Exercise.
Without a determination by the Judiciary, the branch of government that adjudicates on interpretation of law and culpability, the government alleges the data used by A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change Coalition (APNU+AFC) that dead persons and those not within the jurisdiction on Election Day but recorded as voted were “fictitious, false, misleading, and untrue claims as part of its political campaign about dead people, and migrants voting as well as claims of multiple votes being cast at polls.”
During the Recount, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) queried and contested the APNU+AFC being in possession of death certificates which were used in the claim that dead persons voted. The APNU+AFC had countered that the law allows access to birth and death certificates at the fee, which at the time was $300.00.
The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, Chapter 44:01, Section 40 (2) stipulates, “Everyone shall be entitled, on payment of the fees prescribed by the Minister by order, to search the indices between the hours of ten o’ clock in the morning and four o’clock in the afternoon of every day except on public holidays and Saturdays, and to have extracted therefrom a sealed certificate of birth in Form 4 or a sealed certificate of death in Form 5, as the case may be.”
The PPP/C, including the current AG, had countered that such access is a violation of the Information Act 2011, but then Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC, fired back stating Section 3 (1) of the Act allows for such access.
The PPP/C also queried the claim that there were persons who were abroad on Election Day and voted were in Guyana.
In the meanwhile, the Government has not yet initiated action or said when they will inquire into the non-inclusion of statutory documents in 49 ballot boxes. Statutory documents are documents required by law, and in the particular instance, used as proof of compliance to the Representation of People Act, Chapter 1:03 in ensuring the validity and credibility of every vote and count.
Section 83 (10) (a) ‘Procedure on closing of the poll,’ in the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) mandates the presiding officer to “place the sealed envelope containing the counted and rejected ballots papers in the ballot box, and secure and seal, with his seal and with the seals of such of the duly appointed candidates and polling agents as desire to affix their seals, to the ballot box in such manner that it cannot be opened and that nothing can be inserted therein or taken therefrom without breaking the seals;”
The 49 ballot boxes without statutory documents are primarily from the PPP/C’s strongholds.
Guyana elections are based on Proportional Representation (PR). In the PR system every vote counts, and elections can be won or lost on one vote.
There are two election petitions in the court challenging the 2020 Elections.