Police called in at GPSU’s headquarters as vote counting delay enters third day

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 April 2017, 22:20 by Denis Chabrol

Police were Sunday called in at the Guyana Public Service Union’s headquarters in Georgetown to quell disruption of the counting process, the Elections Officer Herman De Souza said.

However, supporters of the Change Team led by Gregory Gaspar said their concerns were triggered by the absence of statements of poll, voters lists and tally sheets that are all critical to the integrity of the elections.

It is now almost three days since union members across the country cast ballots to elect a new executive for 2017 to 2021, but until now the results are yet to be declared because the votes have not all been counted.

Gaspar and his team are looking to unseat Patrick Yarde who has been president of the GPSU for the past 30 years.

No ballots were counted on Friday because, according to Gaspar, he was informed that the designated persons did not show up on that day. They were subsequently told that counting would have resumed at 9 AM Saturday.

However, the Elections Officer said no counting was possible because Gaspar’s supporters  disrupted the process until  3:30 PM when police were called in. “as the process was about to commence, my staff and I were subjected to disruption and intimidating behavior, meted out by some candidates and what appeared to be their supporters; many of whom admitted themselves into the building without proper authorization, and refused to exit when instructed to do so by internal security personnel,” he said in a statement issued to the media through the GPSU’s administration.

De Souza said after the police departed the disruption resumed, resulting in the lawmen and lawwomen having to be called in again. “Following the departure of the Police the disruption recommenced resulting in the recalling of the police ranks. The persons present continued to be noisy during the police presence further delaying the counting of the ballots,” he said.

The Elections Officer charged that their behaviour has given him the “impression that persons present are deliberately attempting to obstruct the counting process which is necessary for there to be a declaration of the results of the elections.”

More than 3,500 persons were eligible to vote, but preliminary indications are that there was a very low voter turnout.

The Elections Officer made no mention of the elections-related documents that Gaspar’s team has been asking for to reconcile the votes cast.

Charging disenfranchisement, ballot box stuffing and poor security of several ballot boxes, Gaspar has already indicated that he would not be accepting the results.