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APNU+AFC Coalition appears set to be declared winner of General Elections

GECOM’s CEO Keith Lowenfield

The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition has won the 2015 General and Regional Elections, according to the final preliminary results released by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Thursday. 

During a news conference held shortly after midday GECOM shared that after tallying the numbers from all 2,229 statements of polls (SOPs) from all regions/districts the coalition attained 206,817 votes while the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) secured 201,457 votes. A total of 410, 391 votes were cast in these elections.

The regions/districts which seem to have made the difference for the coalition were regions/districts four (4), in which the coalition got 113, 534 over the PPP/C’s 69, 914, and ten (10), in which the coalition won 16, 791 votes over the PPP/C’s 2,785.

While the APNU+AFC coalition welcomed the results, its Co-Campaign Manager, Raphael Trotman told Demerara Waves that “we have serious objections to the “revised” tally in Regions 3 and 6. A reconciliation of Statements of Poll is taking place in those regions now,” he said. “The preliminary results, as announced by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), demonstrates that we have come together as Guyanese to elect a Unity Government that will represent the rights of all.  We call on Guyanese who are celebrating this victory to do so respectfully and within the ambits of the laws of the land.”

GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander said that when the relevant calculation is done the result is that the coalition has attained 33 seats in the National Assembly against the PPP/C’s 32. In other words, if these results remain the same in the final declaration, Guyana will again have an Executive government with a majority in the National Assembly. 

Reacting following the release of these Results, PPP/C Executive Member Gail Teixeira noted that the results released by GECOM were only preliminary, and that her party still considers itself the winner of these elections. 

GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield reminded reporters on Thursday that the numbers were preliminary and would only be made official following a reconciliation process to be carried out by the Returning Officers (ROs) in the various regions/districts.

He said that while it is possible that numbers can change in the reconciliation process, such a change is unlikely to be significant enough to affect the outcome reflected in the preliminary results. “We should be singing from the same sheet,” he said. Once the reconciliation process is complete the RO is to declare the final results for the respective regions/districts. 

Once this is done GECOM’s Commissioners must peruse the figures before the CEO is given permission to declare the final results. 

GECOM Chairman Steve Surujbally told reporters that he expected the reconciliation process in the various regions/districts to be completed within a few hours, but Lowenfield added that the size of region/district four (4) may mean reconciliation it will take longer in that region/district. 

Once the declarations are made today the relevant political parties will have until noon tomorrow to request partial or total recounts in some or all of the districts/regions. Section 88 of the Representation of the Peoples Act empowers the ROs to entertain such requests based on the reasonableness of the grounds for said requests. 

The PPP/C has already successfully requested recounts in regions/districts 1, 2 and 8. Lowenfield said today that the recounts have not yielded any “numerical change as far as the numbers go.” The coalition had called on GECOM to refuse these recounts on the basis that they were improperly requested and granted. GECOM, however, went ahead with the process. 

The PPP/C had also requested partial recounts in regions/districts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10, but had not cited reasons for these requests. Lowenfield said today that the respective ROs have denied the PPP/C’s request for these recounts. 

Today the PPP/C argued that the entre voting process for these elections are questionable owing to the discovery of several fake SOPs emanating from the various regions/districts. In light of this discovery the PPP/C wants, inter alia, a recount of all ballots cast in these elections. 

It seems unlikely that GECOM will yield to such a request, however, even though Lowenfield admitted the discovery of approximately 35 fake SOPs. He shared that collectively the documents contained around 300 – 3010 votes, none of which are reflected in the figures released today. 

Weighing on the matter, Surujbally said the numbers reflected on the fake documents were “not of that great quantum as to disturb but it’s a great chance especially when the polls show a great closeness between the two majour parties that these minutiae tend to become great and meaningful consequential information that must be dealt with.” 

He added that “what is the greater issue…is that there is such evil in our society that would make a person do something like that knowing the repercussions.” He further said that the attempt to subvert the system was a “most reprehensible thing to attempt.”

A senior GECOM official has informed Demerara Waves that the data contained on the fake SOPs were in favour of the PPP/C. 

Legal analysts say the PPP/C may and can seek an injunction against GECOM to prevent the declaration of the final results if it adduces sufficient reasons.