As the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) continues to come under fire for refusing to vacate office, the ABC countries are holding firm to their conviction that elections were free and fair. No irregularities
were found during the 2015 polls, they insist.
Though individually they have already expressed their confidence in the conduct of elections the United States Embassy and the High Commissions ýof the United Kingdom and Canada moved to issue a joint statement yesterday reiterating their strong and considered opinion that the voting and tabulation processes in the recently held elections were free, fair and credible.
Over the last few days, the PPP/C has been relentless in its criticism of the elections process, alleging that it was cheated of victory by way of collusion between its main opponent, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) and the electoral body itself, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The PPP/C is but one of the six parties that contested the May 11 polls, and the allegations of being cheated have only surfaced from the PPP/C camp.
On Thursday, GECOM released figures which showed that the APNU+AFC effectively ended the PPP/C’s
23-year rule as it scored a narrow victory in the General and Regional Elections.
But the 5,360 gap has done little to appease the PPP/C who has made it known that it will not concede defeat despite the preliminary results by the electoral body indicating that the coalition will form the next government.
The party is now banking on a recount. A recount, the party hopes, would show that it is the victor but Returning Officers of several Electoral Districts have, with reason, refused to conduct it.
Despite this, the party has been calling repeatedly for a recount, this time of 22 ballot boxes in Region Four, a known opposition stronghold and the Region being touted as the one largely responsible for the coalition victory.
But the ABC countries yesterday said, “Despite investigating, in collaboration with other observer missions, repeated allegations of irregularities, we have found nothing that would materially impact the integrity or credibility of the process.”
This statement was issued mere hours after the PPP/C hosted a press conference where it sought to detail several alleged discrepancies that occurred in these elections.
As he engaged members of the media at Freedom House, Robb Street, Georgetown, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Ramotar, told members of the media that GECOM has undertaken to facilitate a recount have 22 ballot boxes in Region four after his party uncovered “evidence” that the polls have been rigged
by the coalition.
This, he said, was after a meeting with GECOM earlier yesterday.
The PPP is alleging that there are serious differences in numbers between their Statements of Poll (SOPs) and the data that GECOM is using in tabulating the result of the elections.
“Significantly, these differences disclose a consistent pattern of a subtraction of votes from the PPP/C and additions to that very number to the APNU+AFC. Of even greater importance, this information was corroborated by a verification exercise conducted by the Returning Officer for Region Four at which both Political Parties were present,” Ramotar claimed.
He told members of the media that this was done by random selection of 22 SOPs.
Against this backdrop, Ramotar said he requested a recount of those ballot boxes to be done in the presence of all political parties and the observer teams. More importantly, Ramotar asked that the process of tabulation and disclosure by Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield if the elections results could be put on hold until the recount is completed.
The elections body yesterday said that the results of Monday’s elections for a new government will be revealed by today, after midday when the period for which the parties may raise objections would have elapsed.
Ramotar also lashed out at the international observers questioning their integrity in face of acceptance of a “rigged elections.”
“This elections, here, now, also goes to the integrity of the observers that are involved. If they gave a clear bill of health to an election that is clearly rigged, I don’t know if anybody would want them in their country to observe any elections,” he said adding that it was also in the interest of their integrity that a recount is done.
The ABC countries have already dismissed the PPP claims of fake SOPs, with the British High Commissioner to Guyana, James Gregory Quinn stating that he supports GECOM’s position that while the fake SOPs were discovered, they were not tabulated as part of the preliminary results.
In response, Ramotar said that Quinn is “dead wrong” but the Presidential Candidate could not say from whence the fake SOPs originated.
Despite the PPP clearly ‘kicking up a storm,’ the ABC countries made it know that GECOM has an effective verification and dispute resolution process that is functioning well.
“International experts continue to observe this process. We encourage any political party with concerns about any preliminary results to use the established process with the Guyana Elections Commission to make those disputes known rather than resorting to the media,” they urged.
GECOM, the ABC countries reminded, is working to complete final results as early as possible under local law as it called for continued patients and for all political leaders to respect the final results. “We also call on all political parties to keep their promise to respect the Code of Conduct for Political Parties.”
In light of new allegations by the PPP/C, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) also expressed full confidence in GECOM and its adherence to the law and procedures.
“We have no material information to indicate that the results as released by GECOM will change based on allegations by the PPP/C. We are therefore asking that the PPP/C accept the results and commence with transitioning to the new government for the benefit of all Guyanese who are yearning for normalcy to resume.”
The PSC said the business community is at a standstill and this prolonged process is creating damage to the economy and the citizenry.
As is customary, GECOM will officially declare the victor and the allocation of seats in the National Assembly. Despite the delay, Ramotar is asking the electorate to “wait a little longer” in the interest of “democracy.”
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