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Jagdeo, Granger ink document for national recount; fresh controversy erupts over order of count

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger signed a record of their discussions and decisions Monday night, a move regarded as the last step before a Caribbean Community (Caricom)-supervised national recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general elections begins.

“This (signing) is done. Let’s see how fast the count could be done,” a well-placed source familiar with the process told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News. GECOM on Monday said the count could not have started without a signed aide memoire between the two political leaders.

Pro-coalition government election commissioner, Vincent Alexander said the votes would be counted in sequence from Regions 1 to 10, instead of beginning with the most controversial region — Region Four. “Though we may have agreed operationally to start with Four, we now have a document which says one to ten,” Alexander told News-Talk Radio 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News.

Alexander said the count is expected to begin at 9:30 am at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

But, Jagdeo rubbished Alexander’s claims that he and Granger agreed to start from Region 1. The Opposition Leader said A Partnership for National Unity has hatched a fresh plot to tamper with the ballots. “This is a pull-back. This APNU (is) trying to start at Region 1 and use the commissioners. They want to delay getting to Region Four until they can tamper with the boxes,” Jagdeo told News-Talk Radio 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News. “It doesn’t make sense if you start in any other region because Region Four is the one with the controversy,” he said.

Initially, the seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had agreed to begin the count with Region Four, against the background of the fact that that region’s tabulation had come in for scathing criticism by the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), western nations and local, regional and international observers who had all said the process had lacked transparency and credibility.

Pro-Opposition PPP election commissioner, Sase Gunraj told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News that as far as he was aware GECOM’s decision was to start the count from Region Four based on a suggestion by the Caricom High-Level Team that will be supervising the count. “I don’t know that that decision can change pursuant to some aide memoire which I have not seen,” Gunraj said.