Statement from APNU+AFC on political and electoral situation in Guyana
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), in its judgment delivered on 8th July 2020, determined that the decision of the Court of Appeal of Guyana in the Eslyn David vs Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) et al. case was made without jurisdiction and is invalid and of no effect and the Report of the Chief Elections Officer dated 23rd June 2020 was also of no effect.
The CCJ in its ruling, while acknowledging the aim of the Recount Order – Order No.60 – noted that the Order ought not to contradict the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. The CCJ stated:
“The Court also notes that an Order issued by GECOM in any particular context can never determine how the Constitution is to be determined. It is a matter of elementary constitutional law that if ordinary legislation is in tension with the Constitution, then the Court must give precedence to the words of the Constitution and not the other way around. With respect, the notion that Order 60 could either impact the interpretation of the Constitution or create a new election regime at variance with the plain words of the Constitution is constitutionally unacceptable.”
The CCJ’s ruling has meant that the Recount Order created a new electoral regime and as such, was not in keeping with the Constitution of Guyana. This has meant, also, that votes tabulated during the National Recount cannot be used to declare the results of the General and Regional Elections.
The CCJ in its ruling (at paragraph 37) stated further:
“The Presidential Candidate on the list for which more votes have been cast than any other list has deemed to be elected as President and the Chairman of GECOM must declare. The allocations of seats in the National Assembly and the identification of the successful Presidential Candidate are determined on the sole basis of votes counted and information furnished by Returning Officers under the Representation of the People Act.”
The CCJ’s ruling clearly invalidated the Recount Process indicating that the Chairman of the Election Commission was obliged to act in full accordance with the Constitution of Guyana and the judgment of the CCJ and declare the elections results based on the Report presented by the Chief Elections Officer.
The Representation of the People Act (Chapter 1:03 of the Laws of Guyana, at Section 96) requires the Chief Election Officer (CEO) to calculate the valid votes cast in an election. The official Report presented by the Chief Elections Officer stated that a total of 475,118 valid votes were cast at the General and Regional Elections (GRE) held on Monday 2nd March 2020.
The number of votes cast for the six-party coalition (A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) was 236,777. The number of votes cast for the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) was 229,330.
The Chief Election Officer stated that his Report was consistent with Article 177(2) (b) of the Constitution and Representation of the People Act, governing elections in the country. The Constitution (at Article 177 (2)(b)) provides an explanation on the declaration of the elections result and states:
“Where there are two or more Presidential Candidates, if more votes are cast in favour of the list in which a person is designated as Presidential Candidate than in favour of another list, that Presidential Candidate shall be deemed to be elected as President and shall be so declared by the Chairman of the Election Commission acting only in accordance with the advice of the Chief Election Officer, after such advice has been tendered to the Elections Commissions at a duly summoned meeting.”
The Representation of the People Act (at Section 96) requires the Guyana Election Commission, therefore, to declare the election results based on the valid votes cast in favor of the lists of candidates who contested the elections and the advice of the Chief Election Officer, which must be consistent with those laws. It clearly states, “ The Chief Election Officer shall, after calculating the total number of valid votes of electors which have been cast for each list of candidates, on the basis of votes counted and the information furnished by returning officers under section 84(11), ascertain the result of the election in accordance with sections 97 and 98.”
The APNU+AFC Coalition has iterated its commitment to abide by the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Representation of the People Act Chapter 1:03 which provides for the declaration of the results by the Elections Commission.