There was no secret meeting between senior Information Technology (IT) staff members of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and representatives of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Thursday and suspension of the tabulation had nothing to do with that interaction, a GECOM spokeswoman said.
GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward said “no” when asked whether the delay in the start of the tabulation process had anything to do with discussions between GECOM’s IT Manager, Aneal Giddings and PPP’s representatives, Dr. Frank Anthony and Sasenarine Singh.
Controversy erupted earlier Thursday when A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) representative, Daniel Seeram claimed that he pushed a door and saw the purported secret meeting. He and APNU+AFC agent, David Patterson insisted that GECOM officials must at all times hold meetings with representatives of all political parties.
But, the GECOM spokeswoman virtually ruled out any chance of a secret meeting and said the IT officials were merely preparing for the tabulation exercise. “GECOM has a tabulation centre and it’s located in a dome. I cannot understand how a space that is accessible for all party agents now becomes a private space,” she said.
Ward said two agents were setting up equipment when they were approached by two party agents and the “whole thing spun out of proportion and termed a secret meeting .”
Pro-government propagandists almost immediately went into overdrive, claiming that as a result of those discussions the tabulation exercise was suspended.
The GECOM official said Wednesday’s tabulation was a mere trial run. She said based on the gazetted recount order, tabulation is to be done at the completion of each region from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM. Those results, she said, would be released to the media. Ward added that the observations for each box based on the ‘observation report ‘ from each workstation would be recorded during the tabulation exercise.
For his part, Dr. Anthony accused APNU+AFC of “again spewing calculated untruths to derail the tabulation process.” He recounted that on Thursday morning observers from political parties including the APNU/AFC were in the tabulation room with GECOM tabulation officials.
He said he asked the GECOM supervisor of the tabulation process two questions in the presence of all those present- when would the tabulation process commence and why is it that during yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) live broadcast “our clarifications and questions were omitted from the broadcast.”
“The response from the GECOM supervisor was that he is awaiting instructions from the CEO to commence the tabulation and that they would address the technical issues raised about the live broadcast,” Anthony said.
The PPP Executive member said those questions and answers were exchanged in the presence of the observers the Liberty and Justice Party, The Citizenship Initiative, Change Guyana and The New Movement but were deemed by APNU/AFC as a secret meeting.
“It is shameful, that instead of APNU/AFC insisting that we have a timely tabulation process, that their representative is trying to cast doubt on the process. All right-thinking Guyanese must join in rejecting APNU/AFC false narrative. We remain hopeful, that GECOM will start the tabulation process soon and that it will be properly broadcast,” he said.