May 15, 2015 News
– David Granger set to become eighth Executive President
By Abena Rockcliffe
The opposition coalition, A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) led by Brigadier David Arthur Granger, has secured a narrow win this year’s elections.
Mr. Granger is poised to become Guyana’s eighth Executive President. He is now to head a government that comprises a number of smaller political parties and is said to be the representation of national unity in a country as racially diverse as Guyana.
The coalition, during its tenure, will have control over the executive and legislative arms of the government.
The results were announced yesterday by Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield, when he presented the final preliminary results of the 2015 elections.
Those results revealed that the APNU+AFC accumulated 206,817 votes while the long-governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) accumulated 201,457 votes, a difference of 5,360 votes.
The coalition’s gain created a devastating loss for the incumbent PPP/C which held political power for over 23 years.
The PPP/C grip on political power was strong until the 2011 General and Regional Elections when it lost parliamentary control. Over the last few years, incumbent President, Donald Ramotar, ruled Guyana in a minority government.
Based on the preliminary results, APNU+AFC has secured 33 seats in what will be the Eleventh Parliament of Guyana, while the PPP/C, which will form the new opposition, has the
remaining 32 seats. There will be no third Party in the Eleventh Parliament as none of the other Parties that contested the General and Regional Elections managed to win enough votes that will reflect a seat in Parliament.
Yesterday, Lowenfield said that the final declaration of the results will be made today after Returning Officers across the country in the 10 districts would have declared their individual results.
This will pave the way for the swearing in of the President.
The CEO, during his announcement of the results, said that he had some concerns with some counterfeit statements of polls from districts across the country. Lowenfield said that some of the statements that were delivered to GECOM were not on the same quality of paper on which the original statements were printed and the ones that the Commission approved.
A few statements of poll were void of specific security features that
characterize GECOM’s official paper.
However, the Chief Elections Officer said that the votes contained on those statements are not enough to change the outcome of the elections. Subsequent to the press conference, Lowenfield assured media operatives that he would be carrying out extensive investigations into the origin of those statements.
He said that he wishes to track whether the SOPs would have originated from the Presiding Officers or whether they would have found their way to him through one of the various people that they had to pass through before reaching his desk.
Both Lowenfield and GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, said that the votes reflected on those statements cannot change the overall outcome of the elections. Surujbally was keen to point out that there may be changes. “Even if there is a difference of one, it reflects a change” but none that can deprive APNU+AFC of a victory.
Further, Dr, Surujbally, obviously peeved about the incident, said that it reflects the “evil” in society. He said he has no apologies for using the word “evil”. The Chairman said that it is disturbing to know that one would go to such length to do such a thing.
Incumbent President, Donald Ramotar, who called early elections after proroguing and later dissolving Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote, has refused to concede defeat. Ramotar rejected the results and called for a full recount.
When asked if he would refuse to give up power, Ramotar told the media, “I cannot concede that I have lost these elections.”
However, on Monday —Election Day—Ramotar, in an interview just after he would have voted, told reporters, “Whoever loses should peacefully accept.”
So far, only two of the Returning Officers agreed to a recount and have since completed that process. However, the figures have not changed.
Ramotar’s party has been in power since 1992. If it was successful in this election, this would have marked, a sixth consecutive term for the Party. In recent times the PPP/C has been chided for corruption, nepotism, cronyism, thieving and a number of failed contracts.
Last evening, the Party sent out a statement repeating a slogan that was first used by the party in 1964, “Cheated not defeated”. Again, a coalition forced his party out of government.
The release further stated, “We call upon our supporters to be calm and to be prepared for the new phase of struggle that will open up with this new situation that has developed over the past four hours.”
This election has had close to 200 observers from credible observer missions including the Carter Center which the PPP/C had leaned on in 1992 to see free and fair elections.
The various observer missions, including the Organization of American States (OAS), said that allegations about irregularities were unfounded. They certified the elections “free and fair.”
Yesterday, a number of diplomats refused to attend a meeting summoned by Donald Ramotar at the Office of the President. The diplomats said that they were told that the meeting was to discuss the PPP’s concerns regarding the election results.
However, they did not see such a meeting at the Office of the President as appropriate at such a time.
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