PNCR’s internal elections “transparent”-Returning Officer; delayed results raises questions – Jagdeo

Last Updated on Thursday, 4 July 2024, 17:47 by Writer

Delegates voting at the PNCR’s 22nd Biennial Delegates Congress, Congress Place, Sophia on June 23, 2024.

The People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) internal elections that were held on June 30 were “transparent”, Returning Officer Vincent Alexander said on Thursday.

“I’m even more proud of its transparent and open conduct of the election in a country where elections are associated with notoriety,” he said in a video release on the PNCR’s Facebook page. Leader-nominees Roysdale Forde and Amanza Walton-Desir pulled out of the race, citing irregularities.

The Returning Officer said counting of the ballots would be completed on Thursday and the results would be declared on Friday.

Mr Alexander, who is a former PNCR member and an opposition-nominated commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), said the “apparent delay” was due to the way the votes have to be counted and the availability of unaffiliated ballot assistants only in the evenings. “The count for the Central Executive Committee members require the examination of approximately 1,300 ballots, each bearing 59 candidates in order to determine which 15 of those 59 candidates obtained the highest number of votes across those ballots,” he said.

Mr Alexander conceded that the vote count exercise was “time consuming”, influenced by the CARICOM Day holiday. Sources said the Returning Officer was unavailable on Monday because he attended an annual event organised by the Forbes Burnham Foundation.

However, General Secretary of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Bharrat Jagdeo said the five-day delay in declaring results for the 15-member Central Executive Committee (CEC) raised questions about the process. “It showed either incompetence or you have a tampering of the ballots going on there. Either way, how can you imagine a party like that ever forming the government in this country can’t address this issue,” he told his weekly news conference.

Mr Jagdeo also raised questions about the security of the ballots, but Demerara Waves Online News had been reliably informed that they were being stored at the PNCR’s headquarters in a room for which only the Returning Officer has the keys as the locks were changed.

The PPP General Secretary also raised questions about the various numbers of delegates ranging from 2000 to 1800 to 2300 to 1300. Congress Administrator, Sherwin Benjamin is on record as saying that the total number of delegates was 2,300 but only 1,800 attended the June 28 to 30 Congress; however, not all of them remained to vote.