The Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice Claudette Singh yesterday suspended the tabulation and verification of statements of the poll for Region Four following protests by some stakeholders about the process being used by the Returning Officer.
On Wednesday Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire declared that there was substantial non-compliance by the Returning Officer and his declaration of the votes was therefore null and void.
George-Wiltshire ordered that the process be completed in accordance with Section 84 of the Representation of the People Act yesterday.
As such the Returning Officer for Region Four Clairmont Mingo recommenced the exercise at 11 a.m. yesterday in accordance with George-Wiltshire’s ruling.
Mingo used “information from the Statements of Poll received by him directly from the Polling Stations” and compiled a spreadsheet of the votes received for each party.
“However, the methodology presented by the RO was not accepted by the stakeholders present,” a release from the GECOM stated yesterday.
As a consequence Singh “intervened and explained that she is in receipt of an Order of Court and not the written judgment.”
“She noted that the CJ’s admonitions are in the written judgment and she has been promised a copy of that document before the end of the day,” GECOM stated.
“In this regard, it was suggested that the process be discontinued and recommence when the Chairperson has received and studied the written judgment,” it stated.
“The Commission will advise the stakeholders on the next steps as it continues to work assiduously to ensure full compliance with the Chief Justice’s decision and the fulfilment of its constitutional duties,” GECOM stated.
Before the validation process was suspended the delegation of five prime ministers from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held a press conference at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.
The press conference which was chaired by CARICOM chairperson Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley was also attended by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, prime minister of Dominica Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
Mottley said the delegation arrived in Guyana on Wednesday and met the leaders of all political parties involved in last week Monday’s elections including a joint meeting with President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
“We the leaders in the Caribbean Community are committed to working with the people of Guyana for a free and fair process and a transparent process and we made it clear because there is simply too much at stake for the people of Guyana,” Mottley said.
“As a community of sovereign nations we cannot get involved in the internal processes but we are family and a family does not stand by and watch others in the family suffer without making themselves available to be able to aid the process,” she said.
Mottley said the CARICOM delegation laid a platform for dialogue.
“We’ve tried to do that but we are also conscious that we will be as successful as the parties themselves want it to be successful and while we can create the space for them to speak they have to have the will for this to work,” she said.
“There is no doubt in our minds that there is at stake far more than who will be the president of Guyana what is at stake is also the lives and the stability of the future of Guyana,” Mottley said.
She called for good sense to prevail in Guyana and for people to remain calm.
Mottley said the returning officer for District Four “holds in his hands the future and stability of Guyana.”
“This country is on the cusp of turning the corner economically but it must also be on the cusp of making every Guyanese a winner and not a loser,” Mottley said.
“Our fear is that if the process is not transparent we put at risk too much and I, therefore, hope that the people of Guyana will work together to ensure that there is calm, there is peace. One life lost I said last week is one life too many, let us not have any other persons affected,” she said.
While the election results have been on the minds of Guyanese since two Mondays ago the recent announcement of Guyana’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 took centre stage yesterday.
On Wednesday night President David Granger announced to the nation that a 52-year-old Guyanese woman died at the Georgetown Public Hospital earlier in the day.
Although the woman suffered from uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension a blood sample confirmed she had COVID-19.
As a result, Guyanese packed the pharmacies in Georgetown looking for face masks, hand sanitiser, and other disinfectants.
Most pharmacies in Georgetown told Guardian Media their hand sanitiser was sold out.
Face masks were being sold for as much as ten times the usual amount yesterday.
Over 14 doctors and nurses at the Georgetown Hospital have been ordered into self-quarantine following the death woman at the medical facility.
Family members of the dead woman and others who may have been exposed to her have also been ordered into self-quarantine.
Thirteen crew members of the Caribbean Airlines flight that were involved in her trip from the United States to Guyana have also been self quarantined.
The woman flew from the JFK Airport in New York and in-transited in T&T before arriving Guyana.
Staff at the Balwant Singh Private Hospital who interacted with the woman before she was referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital have also been quarantined.