In making her ruling this afternoon, the Chief Justice said it is entirely the decision of Returning Officer Mingo, as to what method of tabulation should be used and that he should commence counting the ballots in Region 4 by 11am tomorrow, Thursday March 12.
Chief Justice Roxanne George also ordered that the Guyana Elections Commission can only make a final declaration upon the completion of the process by the Returning Officer. She noted that it will be up to the Returning Officer to decide whether he will start the process all over again or continue it from where it was suspended.
On the issue of verification, the Chief Justice said that is not catered for in the law and if there are issues following a declaration, the law is clear on the steps that will have to be taken after that.
In an affidavit filed with the High Court, Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers has revealed than the Spreadsheet System which the Region 4 Returning Officer Mr. Clairmont Mingo utilized was used in 8 of the other 9 regions (SIX of which were won by the PPP).
However, the PPP has objected to the use of the spreadsheet system ONLY in Region 4.
The PPP last Thursday filed an injunction, preventing the elections body from publicly declaring the results of votes cast in Region Four, since, according to them, section 84.1 of the Act was not adhered to.
But in arguments before the High Court Senior Counsel Neil Boston submitted that the law provides for the Returning Officer, (RO) to adopt any methodology he chooses to come up with the final result. That includes sitting with agents and other relevant personnel to go through the Statements of Poll or the use of a spreadsheet.
He argued that there was substantial compliance in section 84.1 by the RO since he commenced the process of verification at the close of polls on the night of the elections. However, the process was halted because of the invasion of GECOM’s command centre by members of the PPP.
The Senior Counsel said the Returning Officer could do nothing else but make a declaration, based on the remaining Statements of Poll (SOPs) in his possession. He said the evidence revealed substantial compliance with section 84.1 since the RO did engage the party agents and other relevant persons.
The final declaration by GECOM for Region Four last week showed that the APNU+AFC had acquired 136,335 votes while the PPP had acquired 77,258. That final count saw the coalition government moving ahead of the PPP with an overall count of 237,020, while the PPP followed by 229,562.
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