Court orders GECOM not to strike off “fraudulent” names from LGE list
…decision another blow to Guyana’s democracy – PPPThe People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has come out swinging against Tuesday’s dismissal of a case that sought to compel the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to remove names from a backers list; noting that underhand tactics were used during the hearing.Attorneys Anil Nanlall and Adrian Anamayah with some of the residents who said they were tricked into signing the Alliance For Change backer’s formAccording to the Party in a statement, the Police report that was submitted to Berbice High Court Judge Navindra Singh contained several pieces of inaccurate information and misrepresentation of testimony from residents of Whim/Bloomfield.Noting that electoral democracy and citizens’ right to vote for a party of their choice suffered a blow with the ruling, the party gave another example of the Police being “unable” to locate several members of the Nagamootoo family.“It would be recalled that the Judge ordered a Police report into (the) allegations. The persons who were present in court explained to the media after the court hearing that the report did not accurately reflect what they said to Police Officers who interviewed them,” the Party stated.“This was confirmed by officials of the PPP/Civic who were present when these interviews were conducted by the Police. Significantly, the Police in the report claimed that they were unable to locate Abraham Nagamootoo, Mavis Nagamootoo and other members of the Nagamootoo family and other AFC [Alliance For Change] candidates who were implicated in the statements given by the residents.”Justice Navindra SinghAccording to the Party, it was left in no doubt that the Police investigation, and the ensuing report, were perverted by and contaminated with political interference. Even so, the report still contained damning revelations.“For example, all of the persons interviewed and whose names are on the AFC list of backers made it clear that they did not know they were signing a document supporting the AFC; that they (don’t) support the AFC and that they all requested that their names be removed from those particular lists.“This finding is repeated 12 times in the report and on each occasion, these persons asserted their support for the PPP/C. Worse yet there is one person who said he did not sign at all. In the end, no matter how much you turn it or twist it, the bottom line is these AFC candidates have 50 persons who are on public record saying to the world that they are not supporting the candidates they are supposed to be backing.The Party noted that despite all of this, however, the court still refused to interfere with this violation of these persons fundamental right to support a political party of their choice, by removing their names from those lists.Police reportIt was after reviewing the Police report that Justice Navindra Singh dismissed the court case brought against the Chief Election Officer of (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield and the Returning Officer for Bloomfield /Whim, Orlando Persaud.In the Fixed Date Application, PPP/C Candidate Shafraz Beekham had claimed that he and 49 others were misled by AFC representatives into signing as nominators on the AFC’s Lists of Candidates.Justice Singh had ordered the Police investigation to determine whether the claims were valid on October 11, 2018, the investigative report was presented by the Judge to the Court on Tuesday and after careful review.In dismissing the matter after a look at the police report, Singh indicated that there was no evidence of fraud, trickery or threat. As such, the Judge noted that there was no basis to ask the Chief Elections Officer to ‘strike out’ the names of the nominators from the AFC’s Lists of Candidates.It had been reported previously that at a meeting between GECOM Commissioners on September 25, 2018, it was determined that the deadline for the submission of statutory affidavits to remove names that were fraudulently added to lists would be at 23:55h on September 26, 2018.That was before these electors reportedly received a hard time from Returning Officers who allegedly refused to remove person’s names from the list when requested. This is despite the fact that these persons complained of either being tricked into signing the lists or their signatures even being forged.To compound the matter, the CEO was allegedly out of touch, absent from his office and could not be reached personally or by telephone to give any directions to the offending ROs after 14:30h on September 26. At a press conference afterwards, Lowenfield later claimed he was with his lawyer.