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PPP denies stalling political process

by Zena Henry

More than a month after Guyanese voted in a new government, the defeated People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says that it is not stalling its role in the political process.

The party,which refuses to cooperate with the new Coalition government, has urged citizens to wait for the upcoming election petition which they said would prove allegations that the 2015 General and Regional election was rigged.

PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee told reporters Monday June 22 that apart from not taking up their 32 seats in Parliament again, they were demanding a complete overhaul of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) before the holding of Local Government Elections.

The party has not said definitely whether it would boycott local polls if its calls are not adhered to, but Rohee has dared GECOM and its chairman to go ahead with the elections. “If it’s a bluff, why doesn’t someone call it bluff and then we will see.”

GECOM chairman, Dr. Steve Surubally would have presided over past elections where the PPP won the majority votes and it did not have a problem with him then. It appears also, that the PPP did favourably within the smaller communities, winning more than half of those regional areas at the recently held elections. In terms of participating in local polls, Rohee said however, “When we reach that bridge we will cross it.”

The GS also denied that the PPP was shifting the goal post when it came to its claims of irregularities during the general elections. The party after losing the election claimed that GECOM’s numbers were wrong compared to the figures in its statements of poll. The PPP had contentions with statement of polls, called for box by box recounts and singled out South Georgetown locations where they claimed serious inconsistencies occurred.

However, GECOM has released the official results and when asked for justification of the party’s claims compared to what the election commission had provided, Rohee noted that, “It’s a little too early to jump to conclusion claiming lack of evidence.”

He said, “All the evidence, all the data and all the material statements that we have might certainly be reflected in the elections petition soon to be presented to the court. So we should not jump too early to conclusions about lack of evidence until we see what is presented…”

When asked about the party making new claims of inconsistencies when one complain is shot down, Rohee said, “I don’t think it is a question of shifting the goal post, I think it is a question of understanding where we are coming from.” He said the matter is “a very complex issue” and it cannot be explained in a way that persons would want it to be explained.

Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman has accused the PPP of making excuses and unsubstantiated claims. Rohee said, “Trotman can bleat and mock as much as he wishes…The fact of the matter is that were the Coalition to proceed with the holding of local government elections in the absence of these reforms such a move will only add insult to injury and precipitate the destruction of the basic tenents of consultative and participatory democracy in Guyana.”

Local government elections have not been held since 1994, despite repeated calls and concerns by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC),which now form the government, and the international community.