Nov 29, 2011 News
A Presiding Officer, Onika Beckles, was forced to call in the police at an Aubrey Barker Road Polling Station after she was admittedly shoved against a wall by People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Candidate Odinga Lumumba who also verbally abused the young woman.
Lumumba also grabbed the camera phone from an Election Assistance Bureau (EAB) observer who began recording the altercation and threw it to the floor destroying it in the process.
An angry Lumumba subsequently apologized to the election observer and offered to replace the phone saying that he was angry at the time.
Beckles said that the problem came about when she refused to allow a PPP observer to switch places with another observer from that party.
The woman said that she was allowing the observer all day to enter the polling to hand out food and drinks to their workers.
Beckles said that it was some time after 15:00hrs that the observer came and said that she needed to switch position with another observer so that she could vote.
Beckles said that she had no problem but she requested of the observer a certifying letter from GECOM. The woman, she said, began behaving unruly.
Minutes later Lumumba came and pushed the woman aside and barged into the polling station.
The police were called in and vigilant onlookers stood guard at the polling station.
Meanwhile in Lodge PPP/C Liaison Officer Kwame McCoy had to be escorted from the Lodge Community School Centre after he had threatening the Presiding Officer who had denied him entry into the facility.
McCoy who had no credentials that would have allowed him entry proceeded to be verbally abusive to the staff and Police ranks that had to be called to remove him from the premises.
Lumumba was also at the time casting his vote and when he emerged from the polling place he was accosted by some angry A Partnership for National Unity and a heated argument ensued and the police had to intervene and he was escorted.
Later in the day as the tension rose in Guyana scores of supporters began surrounding various polling stations across the city prompting the Guyana Police Force to respond by having throngs of ranks some in riot gear and patrolling the city and its environs.
Before long there was a report at Turning Point East Ruimveldt that a man presenting some form of documentation purporting to give him access to the ballot boxes but was quickly accosted by an individual who began to question him and a physical confrontation ensued.
The man was said to be armed but was not given a chance to reach for his weapon as he was swarmed and quickly whisked away by police ranks.
Scores of people started to converge on the scene as word of the confrontation spread and minutes later the riot squad arrived but left shortly after.
The tension continued to rise in the city as word of the various isolated incidents spread.
A few hundred feet away at a nearby polling station there were reports that several hundred persons may have been disenfranchised.
There are reports that a junior minister along with a security entered the compound in a manner described as storming the compound and the persons that had been in queue to vote fled the scene.
When they returned after the location had calmed 18:00hrs had passed and the polling station was thus closed and this prompted some angry members of the electorate to object sending the police into quick reaction.
By the time the situation was resolved it was too late to allow any of the persons back into the station to cast a vote.
Minutes later there was a report that a man had been caught in the Camptown area attempting to remove a ballot box.
When this newspaper arrived on the scene a large crowd had converged on the polling station eager to get their hands on the man but the police quickly removed him. There was the allegation that he somehow made his way into the polling station posing as an official authorized to be in the vicinity of the ballot boxes.
He was reportedly placing some kind of paper into the boxes but this could not be verified.
For the remainder of the evening there were sporadic incidents being reported across the city and countrywide including reports of Senior PPP/C Officials at some of the various polling stations.
Chairman of the Elections Commission Dr Steve Surujbally at about 23:00hrs last evening said that the results of the Election should be available by this evening.
He appealed for calm to pervade in society until the final verified results could be made available.
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