…APNU, AFC refuse to participate in PPP/C recount request
Last evening, more than 24 hours after the General and Regional Elections were conducted, and with no official declaration having yet been made, tension continued to rise in Guyana as speculations and accusations ran rife.
It was not business as usual in the capital city yesterday either as the majority of businesses remained closed and those that did open for a few hours in the morning made sure to keep most of their security barriers in place.
When Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Public Relations Officer Vishnu Persaud made an announcement yesterday, he indicated that they were still awaiting the statements of poll from a number of regions and that the results had not been verified.
He also told media operatives and observers that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) had requested a recount at 35 polling stations in Georgetown and 13 on the East Bank of Demerara.
This newspaper understands that the reason for the request was as a result of the fact that the PPP/C Election Agent received reports of counting agents being denied access to witness the counting in some locations.
This, however, did not sit well with A Partnership for National Unity or the Alliance for Change.
Election Agent for APNU Joseph Harmon at an emergency press briefing told media operatives and observers that they had learnt that the PPP/C had requested a recount of votes in Regions 3, 4 and 10.
“While this is their democratic right the APNU views this move with much suspicion….In the first place the Election Agent of APNU has not been officially informed of this request as of 18:00 hrs (6:00 pm) this (yesterday) afternoon.”
Harmon further stated that APNU finds it strange that the PPP/C, having declared themselves the winner of the Presidency earlier in the day, should be asking for a recount.
The Facebook page for the Presidential Candidate of the PPP/C Donald Ramotar had declared they had won the elections and APNU had lodged a complaint with GECOM.
GECOM said that it had consulted with the PPP/C and was informed that Ramotar was not responsible but rather it was an over enthusiastic support that had made the online post.
Harmon further informed that “we have no confidence that the integrity of the ballot boxes has not been compromised since the end of the official count last (Monday) evening.”
He was referring to incidents involving several senior PPP/C functionaries that had occurred following the close of polls and that the individuals had attempted to interfere with the counting process.
Harmon also displayed a seal labeled GECOM and carrying the serial #0023154 which is said to be one that was used to secure ballot boxes.
This seal he said was discovered in the East Ruimveldt Multilateral School on Mandela Avenue which was not a polling place but did have ballot boxes stored.
As such he declared that “APNU will, therefore, not participate in any recount of the votes since all Statements of Poll have, as required by the electoral laws, been signed by the Presiding Officers and the Polling Agents and posted outside of each of the Polling Stations.”
He further added that APNU is forced to conclude that “this is yet another attempt by the PPP to stall the announcement of the results of these elections and to create confusion among the population.”
Harmon also stated that APNU “has been exercising patience and restraint in the face of demands from our supporters for the results of the elections to be made known….We continue to urge our supporters to be calm and to keep the peace, but we are cognisant of the fact that the prolonged delay can only serve to increase suspicion and anxiety among the population…We, therefore, call on GECOM to address this matter urgently, since what is at stake is the very integrity and confidence in the electoral process.”
Meanwhile, the AFC in a statement to the media said that it objects to recounts of ballot boxes which it said was hastily commissioned by GECOM and which were requested by the People’s Progressive Party.
“The AFC further expresses grave concern about the inadequacy of information pertaining to the recount process and the total absence of grounds on which these recounts have been requested.”
The party further stated that they had received a request late yesterday afternoon to be present at a recount at the Region Three GECOM Centre, but that in addition to the short notice “this request was not accompanied by any information pertaining to the ballot boxes to be recounted or the reason for the recounts.”
The party stated that, “The AFC puts its supporters and the nation on notice that the process is compromised. The Party eagerly awaits a response from GECOM.”
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