Polls close in Guyana’s local govt elections

Last Updated on Monday, 12 November 2018, 19:50 by Denis Chabrol

Polls in Guyana’s Local Government Elections closed at 6 PM and counting has begun to ascertain who will control the 10 town councils and 70 neighbourhood councils.

In an initial reaction, the Alliance For Change (AFC) said the polls in Georgetown and Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) went smoothly except for some reports that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) were at a number of polling stations seemingly advising electors to vote for that political organisation. AFC Campaign Official, Michael Leonard told Demerara Waves Online News that he  raised concerns about those occurrences with the Returning Officer for Georgetown. “At St. Pius School in constituency eleven, there were some APNU activists- I’m not sure who they were- they were interfacing with the voters as they were going in. Some of them were  taking the voters’ cards and going to look for the polling stations and it appeared as though that was what they were doing but we also believed they were doing some canvassing,” he said. He said the GECOM official advised them that was the work of GECOM’s Information Clerk. Leonard said there were similar occurrences in constituencies 9, 11, 13 and 15.

Leonard said his party officials noted  low voter turnout early in the day and he was awaiting feedback to ascertain whether that situation prevailed during the latter part of the day.

“There were no issues that came up that we felt there was not a reasonable solution to or at no time when we engaged GECOM did we find them unwilling to work to resolve the issues,” he added.

General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform, Amna Ally could not be contacted immediately, but one of that party’s senior activists described voting as “very, very smooth” after he visited Berbice, Georgetown, and ast Bank Demerara.. Berbice. He said “the turnout was very poor because of a number of reasons”.

The People’s Progressive Party’s Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha declined to comment immediately on how was the voting process.

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield said, except for some minor hiccups and observations, voting was smooth but slow. He declined to comment on the actual turnout until all of the results are in, but he noted that at one of the new Local Authority Areas  – Aranuputa/ Upper Burro-Burro- in Region Nine (Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo), there was a more than 40 percent turnout buy midday compared to other new ones on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway and in the Pomeroon.

Overall, he said the voting process was “an extremely good one”

Concerns, he said, had been raised that the ink was being easily removed, names of persons were not on the voters list, and a problem with a six-digit stamp in Berbice, all of which were addressed by GECOM, he said.

In addition to several independent candidates, the established parties such as AFC, APNU and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) fielded candidates in the second elections in just over two years in keeping with Guyana’s constitution.