The Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the 2020 Elections was today shown video and audio evidence depicting heavily armed TSU ranks clearing the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Command Centre, as well as clips of party agents and local observers objecting to the insertion of “fictious numbers” while the Statements of Poll (SOPs) for Region Four were being tabulated and verified by election officials.
The audio and video evidence was presented to the Commission by the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AmCham) Representative, Rosalina Rasul, who was on the stand for a second day. During the course of elections, Ms Rasul served as an AmCham observer. She now works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
She told the Commission that party agents and local and international observers were evicted from the Command Centre on March 5, 2020 by the then Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Roxanne Myers.
In a video clip presented, the then DCEO was heard asking persons within the Command Centre to leave the premises.
“Please take your rubbish and leave,” Ms Myers was heard saying. Her command was followed by the presence of armed TSU ranks, who indicated to those present that failure to leave the building will result in their arrest.
“If they don’t leave arrest them,” a police officer was heard instructing his subordinates, while adding “just walk them out!”
Ms Rasul told the Commission that the ‘eviction’ took place the very day the GECOM Chairman, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh was locked in a room for hours even as the Region Four Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo attempted to prematurely declare the results of the votes cast in District Four amid screams of “no.”
Pointing to a separate video, Ms Rasul said days before the forceful removal of the observers, on March 3, 2020, the Region Four Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo had explained, in detail, the tabulation process as he stood in the Tabulation Room on the ground floor of the Command Centre. Pointing to a video clip, she said, at the time, the RO was addressing party agents and local and international observers.
The AmCham observer said by March 12, 2020, the Returning Officer had scrapped the use of the SOPs and was relying heavily on the spreadsheet.
“The numbers I have on the spreadsheet are the numbers that I have extracted from the original Statements of Polls that were issued to me; those are my Statements of Poll. I took each Statement of Poll input it into our computer, tabulated it, and come up with these broadsheets for each polling station,” Mr Mingo was heard explaining.
In response to objections raised, the RO said “if you have yours, follow!”
Ms Rasul said by the morning of March 13, the entire process was moved from the tabulation room to another room within the Ashmins Building, and it was there that party agents and observers present realized yet again that the numbers being called out by GECOM staffers were not corresponding with the SOPs. The issue, she said, was addressed by the then Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield.
“The commissioners are of the view that if we cannot in an orderly way resolve the problem, whatever it is, I don’t know, I wasn’t here, my broadsheet is working, you are saying it doesn’t work,” the CEO was heard saying.
Ms. Rasul told the Commission that the issue continued with loud objections.