Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2020, 5:23 by Denis Chabrol
Less that one week after President David Granger said the March 2, 2020 general elections were “free, fair and orderly”, his incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has charged that the national recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections is uncovering massive irregularities.
But the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) could not say how widespread were allegations of substitute voting. GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward on Sunday said the electoral management agency was yet to conduct such an analysis. “I can’t say how widespread is it because we have not done a full analysis of those observation reports that are being attached to the SORs (Statements of Recount). There are claims by parties but at the level of the Secretariat we have not done any kind of analysis on what those reports are saying to us so that we can determine the magnitude of those claims,” said Ward.
Up to Sunday, Day Five of the national recount, votes in 208 out of 2,339 boxes were recounted, and 90 SORs for the general elections and 180 for regional elections were tabulated.
Even as the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) claimed that the recount, particularly for Region Four, has shown that Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo’s declaration was padded in favour of APNU+AFC, the governing coalition accused the PPP of rigging the polls.
“What is emerging, even at this early stage, is that there was a systematic effort by the PPP on Election Day to corrupt the electoral process and to fraudulently cause votes to be registered for that party while seeking to disqualify votes for the APNU+AFC Coalition,” the coalition said.
APNU+AFC provided no statistics to prove its claims which are in stark contrast to President David Granger’s claim that the elections were “free, fair and orderly” and that he would abide by a declaration by GECOM. The elections management authority has not set aside the declarations, including the Mingo declaration, until the recount is completed.
APNU+AFC General Secretary , Joseph Harmon last week conceded that some of his polling day staff were not as vigilant as he had expected.
International observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS), Carter Centre, Commonwealth, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Western diplomats and local observers have all praised the orderliness of polling day except for the tallying at Region Four.
The PPP had gone to the High Court twice to compel Mingo to tally the results in keeping with procedures in the Representation of the People Act. He is facing contempt of court proceedings.
The coalition did not dispute the PPP’s claims that the Region Four declaration was inflated in favour of the governing coalition.
Neither did the coalition provide actual figures but relied on descriptions such as “countless instances” and “numerous instances” of voting in the names of dead persons in PPP strongholds and migrants “who have long migrated from Guyana and who were not in Guyana on Election Day”.
APNU+AFC added that people who did not uplift their ID cards from GECOM for many years were recorded as voting in PPP stronghold areas but with no corresponding Oaths of Identity being found in the ballot boxes. Electors can vote with passports.
The coalition said there were numerous unsigned Oaths of Identity in PPP stronghold areas, votes for other parties being recorded for the PPP, missing poll books, and ballots clearly cast for the APNU+AFC Coalition deemed as spoilt.
“As the fifth day of the recount process has been completed, clear and unmistakable patterns of irregularities, discrepancies and worse have emerged,” APNU+AFC said.
At the same time, the APNU+AFC said it “reaffirms its commitment to the recount process as it is unmasking the PPP attempts to contaminate and rig the March 2, 2020 elections.”
Expressing concern that PPP officials, who are likely to have been involved in this rigging process on Election Day, were “bold-facedly” lying and covering up in an attempt to mislead Guyanese, the coalition called on the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union to revoke the visas of PPP supporters “who are being exposed as the true riggers of the March 2nd election.’
“This is especially relevant given that in the case where persons who have long migrated from Guyana are listed as having voted, many of these persons live in and are citizens of ABCE countries,” the coalition said.
GECOM will this week decide whether to extend the 25-day deadline for the recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general elections.