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Elections results wouldn’t change, as GECOM gives into PPPC’s request to count some boxes

US Embassy Charge D’Affaires Bryan Hunt; Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. Nicole Giles and Britain’s High Commissioner to Guyana Gregory Quinn talking with the media earlier this week shortly after meeting with top executives of the People’s Progressive Party Civic.

Just hours after the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) detailed several alleged discrepancies in the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, the American, British and Canadian missions here said the outcome would not change.

“Despite investigating, in collaboration with other observer missions, repeated allegations of irregularities, we have found nothing that would materially impact the integrity or credibility of the process,” said the diplomatic missions in a joint statement.

The PPPC says GECOM has undertaken to accommodate a recount of 22 boxes in District Four after his party uncovered evidence that the polls might have been rigged in favour of the opposition coalition.

Preliminary results released by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Thursday show that 201,457 persons voted for the PPPC and 206,817 votes for A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

GECOM says it will update the country after midday Saturday about steps to officially declare a winner and the allocation of seats in the National Assembly because it first has to wait one day after the last Electoral District- in this case District Four- would have declared its results to see if any party would raise any objections.

The three Western Missions said they wished to “reiterate our strong and considered opinion that the voting and tabulation processes in the Guyanese national and regional elections were free, fair, and credible.”

The American, British and Canadian governments urged political parties with concerns about any of the preliminary results to use GECOM’s effective verification and dispute resolution process to make know those disputes rather than resorting to the media.

It is only the PPPC that has been calling press conferences to publicly complain about the use of fake Statements of Poll that showed inflated numbers in favour of APNU+AFC.

The ABC missions begged Guyanese to be patient as GECOM works to complete the final results as early as possible and again urged the political parties to respect the final results. “We call on all Guyanese to be patient during that process and for all political leaders to respect the final results. We also call on all political parties to keep their promise to respect the Code of Conduct for Political Parties.”

The European Union (EU) earlier Friday said political parties should go to court if they have problems with the election results.

Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar, at a news conference  Friday, told reporters that his party asked GECOM to intervene earlier in the day discovered evidence that intervention was sought following the discovery  of evidence that these elections may have been rigged in favor of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition.

“Our party has identified serious differences in numbers between our statements of poll (SOP) and the data GECOM is using relating to the results of the 2015 General and Regional Elections,” he said.

He added that this finding has been “corroborated by a verification exercise conducted by the Returning Officer (RO) of Region Four which show a substantial difference between our statements of poll and the information in the possession of GECOM in relation to the said ballot boxes.”

Giving specifics, the PPP/C said for ballot box 4644 the SOP it posses, and which has been signed by the relevant polling agents and presiding officer showed 16 votes for the coalition and 261 for the PPP/C.

Following the reconciliation process though, the coalition is seen as shaving 76 votes and the PPP/C 201 votes. In another instant, ballot box 4723, the PPP/C SOP shows 163 votes for the coalition and 88 votes for the PPP/C. Following the verification process though, the coalition is shown as having 173 votes while the PPP/C have 89 votes, the PPPC says.

The party said that patterns are clear in the way the numbers are changing and argued that it is indicative of rigging.

The PPP/C communicated these concerns to GECOM during a meeting this morning and the elections body has reportedly agreed to entertain the request for a recount.

Ramotar explained that the party was, at the fist instant, calling for a recount of all ballots in all districts, but had decided to settle for a recount of one of the boxes in which it identified the discrepancy.

He said he asked GECOM to “take a sample of one of these that I am giving you…and check in the box to see if our accusation is correct,” but that GECOM Chairman, Steve Surujbally, has said that he thinks they can do all 2 that have been presented.”

During a news conference this past week Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield told the nation that he does not perceive any change produced in the reconciliation process significant enough to change the preliminary results GECOM has produced.

Today though, Ramotar said “we believe these elections were seriously flawed enough to change the outcome of the results…”

He further criticized GECOM for allegedly hiring personnel it had promised not to following the 2011 elections, during which he says there was a “…massive number of rejected ballots…”

“We still found in these elections that 312 of them were re-employed for these elections…” Prior to May 11th the PPP/C made sustained calls for public vetting of persons chosen by GECOM to be presiding officers. The elections body refused every time.