President David Granger on Thursday said he would accept a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) even if it includes votes that his party regards as invalid.
“With respect, my statements on compliance with the declaration wasnt conditional. I didn’t say if the rain is falling or the sun is shining, if it comes by day or night I am obliged to the declaration of the chairman of GECOM,” he told News-Ta;k Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.
Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Volda Lawrence declined to add to the President’s comment on the issue.
His A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has in recent weeks been insisting that it would not tolerate the use of invalid votes- those tainted by alleged fraud such as voter-impersonation and absence of key and critical documents to reconcile votes.
The GECOM Chairman has already requested the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield to submit a report using the data from the national vote recount. Mr. Granger suggested that there was no room for a State of Emergency if it becomes apparent that GECOM would include votes that his coalition regards as invalid.
Declaring a state of emergency in Guyana is not being considered at this time, Mr. Granger said when asked if he is prepared to move in that direction, should his party not be declared the winner of the March 2020 elections.
“I cannot answer that question. I have not heard the decision of the court and I have not contemplated at this point in time the necessity for a state of emergency,” the Guyanese head of state said. Pressed on whether it remains an option, he said, “All I am saying is that over the last 20 months I’ve insisted that once the Chair of GECOM makes a declaration, I will comply with that. I don’t see how a state of emergency or the necessity for a state of emergency arises,” he said.
But Mr. Granger had hinted at the possibility of calling a State of Emergency during an interview with select media personnel at State House in mid June.
Responding to questions, he had noted then that a State of Emergency is a possibility considering the financial difficulties Guyana is in, the unresolved state of elections and the COVID-19 pandemic. During that interview he noted that declaring a State of Emergency is a possibility in the context of whether GECOM nullifies the election, something that his coalition has been pushing for.
Although his coalition party has insisted on “valid votes” and not using the recounted figures, Granger told the media that there is nothing that could lead him in the direction of declaring such, maintaining, “I have insisted on credibility from the start. That is nothing new. But I don’t see what that has to do with a state of emergency.”
He continued, “What I have insisted on is credibility. Other people have been making calls, but I know what I have said. I said that I’m interested in having as early as possible a declaration by the chairman of GECOM. I don’t run an election, the chairman and the six commissioners will determine the outcome of this process.” APNU Chairman and People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) executive member, Aubrey Norton have in recent weeks been in the forefront of stressing the need for valid votes to be used to declare the results of the polls.
Mr. Granger, who is the PNCR leader, reiterated that he would abide by any declaration made by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission but noted that he cannot concede defeat since no declaration has been made. His statement comes at a time even when coalition agents have gone to the court to block the declaration of the elections results.
“I cannot concede because no declaration has been made, I pay attention to what the popular media say but as far as the groundswell is concerned everybody knows that over the past 20 months I have been saying over and over again that I will abide by the declaration by the GECOM ruling of the court,” he added.
The president expressed his support for the current court challenges blocking the election declaration but said APNU+AFC would abide by the court rulings. “People can rightfully challenge a ruling once they disagree with it but once the court has finally ruled then we will obey the rule of the court. So the groundswell is not a legitimate statement of what the law or the constitution calls for. I follow the constitution and what the courts have said and I await a decision of the commission.”
Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire has decided that the national recount vote figures should be used to declare the winner of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, and that the Chief Elections Officer was obliged to take instructions from the Commission.