“I have never seen such a transparent effort to alter the results of an election,”- OAS Observer Mission Chief

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2020, 21:24 by Denis Chabrol

The head of the Organisation of American States (OAS) mission that observed Guyana’s general and regional elections, Bruce Golding on Wednesday strongly suggested that the poll was being rigged at the declaration of results by the Elections Commission.

He told a discussion at the OAS Permanent Council that so far showed variation in results from the ongoing recount compared to the results that were declared by Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo.

“I have never seen such a transparent effort to alter the results of an election,” said Golding. Providing comparisons of the Mingo declaration with the Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount from the current recount exercise, Golding said “it takes an extraordinarily courageous mind to produce fictitious numbers  when such a sturdy paper trail exists.”

He said the recount shows that in ballot box 4062, the Statement of Poll indicates 182 votes for the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and 43 for the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) but the Returning Officer reported those results as 292 votes for APNU+AFC and 33 for PPP but when the box was recounted the numbers were 182 for APNU+AFC and 43 for PPP, the “exact figures” that are on the Statement of Poll. He also said for box 4063 on election night the Statement of Poll states 15 for APNU and 276 for PPP but the Returning Officer’s declaration showed 85 for APNU+AFC and 246 for PPP; for box 4064 APNU+AFC got 70 votes and the PPPC secured 93  but  the Returning Officer  declared 170 for APNU+AFC, 73 for PPPC and 20 less as rejected ballots but recount  gave 71 APNU+AFC, 96 for PPP and four rejected ballots that were considered good, and for box 4074 the Statement of Poll shows 86 for APNU+AFC and  84  for PPP; the Returning Officer’s declaration was 140 for APNU+AFC, 64 for PPP and the recount shows 86 for APNU and  84 for the PPP.

Touching on the recount for Region Four on Tuesday, Golding said in 20 of the 81 boxes , the votes for APNU+AFC were decreased by 1,536 and the votes for PPP were increased by 177.

Two Guyana-based OAS Office has deployed two locally-based staff members are watching the recount at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

The Head of the OAS Observer Mission said the Returning Officer continued to use his spreadsheet despite a High Court ruling, but eventually when he used the Statements of Poll they were “vastly different” from those in the possession of party representatives. He noted that more than 12 copies of Statements of Poll are generated with each of the nine party representatives being entitled to one.

“While the electoral process up to  the close of the polls and through the tabulation of the results proceeding in accordance with the election law in nine of the ten regions, the final tabulation if results in Region Four, which regrettably came to taint the overall process and has led to the protracted delay in the declaration of the overall results,” he said.

Golding flayed GECOM’s officials for disrupting the tabulation process by announcements or actions, saying that those “undermined the transparency of the process.” ‘Principal among these was the action of the Returning Officer in abandoning the Statements of Poll in the presence of the authorised party representatives and to rely instead on a spreadsheet of unknown origin which provided results that were significantly different from the Statements of Poll which party representatives claimed to be in their possession,” he said.

Guyana reacts

Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Riyad Insanally said the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) scrutinised recount is expected to produce “credible results”. “The electoral process is not yet complete. Once the recount is finalised, the results will be declared in full accordance with the law, paving the way for the swearing in of a President,” he said.

He noted that President David Granger has said he would abide by the declaration by  GECOM. GECOM’s Recount Order provides for the politically-divided elections commission to decide whether the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield should consider the data to submit a report to the Commission for a declaration to be certified.

Other than that, he essentially rehashed the long-held positions by the government and President David Granger including that he would accept the declaration of results by GECOM.