Last Updated on Thursday, 24 August 2023, 22:57 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Thursday night said he was fairly optimistic that the government would give in to demands for biometric screening of voters to avoid electoral fraud but signaled that if not was not done the results could be rejected.
“I’m saying this to you: once there is a clean voters list, once there is biometrics, the outcome of the elections will be accepted by all,” he told the small turnout at the meeting held in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. Mr Norton was responding to a question by an attendee about how he intended to curb criminal activity that “are very detrimental to unity and development” if the opposition loses the elections.
He made his position known in what is believed to be a rare if not unprecedented town hall meeting by the Leader of the mainly Afro-Guyanese supported People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in Queens, a diaspora stronghold of the predominantly Indo-Guyanese supported People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC). At the end of the three-hour meeting, Mr Norton said “it was a pleasure” and that he was always ready to meet Guyanese wherever they are including Queens, New York also known as Little Guyana. Prior, Mr Norton said on a number of occasions, he was asked why he was going to Queens, New York as it was “hostile terrain”. “I said it’s a terrain with some misunderstanding and if I come I can help with misunderstanding…I see it as a reflection of the evolution of Guyanese politics, extrapolated, transposed to the United States,” he said.
In an effort to back up his contention that the voters list is padded, the PNCR Leader said Guyana’s population is 750,000 while the voters list is 682,000 and government has said that 250,000 children received cash grants. He questioned why the PPPC was refusing to give into opposition demands for biometrics if it was not afraid. “The problem is the lack of credibility in the election process and it has gotten worse under (Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission), Claudette Singh.
Relying somewhat on expected solidarity from United States Congressmen and senators after he told them that it was “in the interest of democracy and stability” that there be a clean voters list and biometrics, Mr Norton said he was hopeful that the Irfaan Ali-led administration would give into repeated opposition demands for biometric screening at polling places. “We will engage the international community and make them aware of what is happening with the hope that our struggle at home and their assistance in the international realm, we’ll get a clean voters list and people can be reassured of that that the next election will be free and fair and there will be no need for rancour at the end of the process,” he said.
The PNCR-led parliamentary opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) had accused the PPP of rigging the 2020 general and regional electi0ns through multiple voting and voter impersonation. APNU+AFC did not reveal copies of its statements of poll, but a national vote recount showed that the numbers were similar to those on the PPP’s statements of poll.