– as PPP, APNU point accusing fingers at each other
Guyana’s two main political parties, the People’s Progressive Party and A Partnership for National Unity are pointing accusing fingers at each other over the breach of containers in which ballot boxes from the last general elections are being held.
While the PPP said that it is flabbergasted by the on-going efforts by certain forces to interfere with the integrity of the 2011 elections material, at least one senior APNU member has indicated that it is the PPP that has been showing significant interest in ballot boxes since Election Day.
On Sunday, Guyana Elections Commission officials discovered that three containers holding ballot boxes from the last elections, which are being housed in its office at Coldingen, East Coast Demerara, were breached.
The Guyana Elections Commission in a statement yesterday said unequivocally that the integrity of the contents of the Ballot Boxes which are stored in the metal containers at the GECOM complex at Coldingen, East Coast Demerara, remained intact.
GECOM explained that following the just concluded General and Regional Elections, the metal containers in which the Ballot Boxes and other electoral equipment and material are stored, were returned to GECOM locations at its Headquarters at High and Cowan Streets, Kingston, Georgetown and the Coldingen Complex, East Coast Demerara, between December 1 and 2, 2011.
According to GECOM, while general security is provided at both locations, the containers in which the Ballot Boxes are stored carry two heavy-duty padlocks each.
At about 14:15 hours on Sunday, the onsite security guards were conducting a routine check around the containers at Coldingen, when it was found that the padlocks from three of the containers had been prised open.
This led to a report being promptly made to the Police and GECOM Officials.
The Police and Officials of GECOM immediately visited the location and carried out checks on the contents of the containers.
“All of the contents were found to be intact, i.e all the Ballot Boxes were accounted for and the concomitant seals which were placed on them were patently intact. The contents of the Ballot Boxes were uncompromised. New padlocks were affixed to the containers and security has since been intensified,” the GECOM statement said.
GECOM said that the motive of the person or persons who prised opened the locks is unknown at this point in time, but the ongoing investigation into the breach of the containers is in the hands of the Police, with assistance from GECOM’s internal security personnel under the leadership of Mr. Henry Chester, GECOM’s Chief Security Officer and former Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Kaieteur News understands that initially the containers were being guarded by ranks from the Guyana Police Force but the ranks were subsequently removed.
“GECOM is aware that the attempt to access the contents of the containers carries the potential to engender strife among the Political Parties and the electorate insofar as the conduct of the Elections is concerned.
Accordingly, the Commission takes this opportunity to reiterate that the integrity of the contents of the Ballot Boxes was not compromised. The Statements of Poll in the Ballot Boxes are ready for any forensic scrutiny/audit which may be necessary,” the Guyana Elections Commission stated.
However, the two major parties have both expressed concerns over the incident, especially since the PPP had called for a recount of ballots in some districts, and APNU is conducting a verification of the statements of poll.
APNU’s Executive Member, Dr. David Hinds, is extremely suspicious about the entire incident, since he claimed that the PPP has been “playing games with these boxes from the time of the elections.”
“We saw on Elections Day, people were caught with boxes in their homes, we saw them going into the counting area and trying to influence the count, we saw them calling for a recount and then calling off the recount… the PPP is interested in what is in those boxes,” Hinds told Kaieteur News during a picketing exercise at Nabaclis, East Coast Demerara early yesterday morning.
The PPP in a statement immediately after the discovery was made said that the incident would affect vital evidence should there be either a recount or even a forensic audit which the party is advocating.
The ruling party said that it has always maintained that it remains unopposed to a total or partial recount of the ballots given our firm view that there was orchestrated misconduct at several polling stations and divisions.
“We view this break-in of the ballot boxes as a planned effort by certain political forces to prevent a recount given the suspicions and evidence of collusion to cheat the PPP/C of a clear parliamentary majority. We have also noticed an unprecedented feature i.e. the use of military-type planning and operations by these elements, who seem bent on frustrating and even undermining the democratic process in Guyana,” the PPP stated.
The PPP/C said that it expects that the GECOM leadership and the law enforcement authorities will move resolutely, in apprehending the perpetrators.
But a GECOM insider expressed surprise at the PPP’s insinuation about collusion.
“I am not aware of any ‘evidence’ of collusion, clear or perceived,” the source said.
Former PNCR Member of Parliament, Ernest Elliot, echoed the sentiments of his APNU colleague Dr Hinds, indicating that the PPP must come forward and identify the elements that are in collusion to cheat them of the parliamentary majority.
“I know for a fact that neither APNU nor AFC is not involved in that. They know what happened there (at Coldingen) and they have to come out plain and tell us what transpired there, and we are gonna call for a Commission of Inquiry,” Elliot said.
“We are saying, there is a consistent pattern here and it is very clear that this battle for these elections is not over,” Hinds stated.
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