– couple said to be out of country had voted for Coalition
By Shikema Dey
Alliance For Change (AFC) Leonard Craig has added a new dimension to his party’s claims of possessing evidence that some persons who had migrated from Guyana were recorded as having voted in this year’s election.
In this paper’s Wednesday May 20 edition, a story was published in which a Berbice couple, Aubrey and Shirley Nicholson, had debunked Coalition agent Yonette Obermuller’s claim that they were out of the country on Election Day, March 2.
The Nicholsons were listed, along with three other people, as having left Guyana at various times and purportedly not having returned to the country in time to vote, yet whose vote were recorded in ballot box 6007, Sisters Village Primary School. One person on the list was recorded as having left Guyana as long ago as January 10, 2011 at the specific time of 9:36:27 AM.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Shirley Nicholson had confirmed that they were both in the country and voted early, spending the rest of the day with their grandchildren. Aubrey Nicholson also took part in an interview with a Berbice television station, footage of which this paper has seen.
In a Facebook comment challenging Kaieteur’s reporting as ‘propaganda’, Craig claimed “You did not provide any proof that
these persons were here. There is something called exit and entry stamp at JFK let them send you that. Until then this article is hearsay.”
When challenged that he was saying, without evidence, that the Nicholsons travelled to the US, Craig said that he was speaking generally, adding “Reference to JFK is representative of any place where anybody may have travelled. They would have an entry stamp. I’m not advocating that they indeed travelled to JFK.”
He was then asked to support the Coalition’s specific claims that the couple had left Guyana on July, 2019 at 10 AM and had not returned since, and which destination the Coalition was claiming the Nicholsons migrated to. In response, Craig said that the Coalition’s practice was to present departure date and time and then allege the persons never returned in time for the elections. He stated that it was up to GECOM to then investigate those claims of which he said the Coalition was in receipt of “thousands”.
The issue of GECOM’s responsibility to investigate objections and allegations made during the recount process has been an issue on contention during the past week. While GECOM Chair, Claudette Singh, yesterday confirmed in a release that her fundamental position was “He who asserts must prove”, her accompanying observation that “there are considerable deliberations and decisions at the Commission in relation to claims of anomalies; the outcome would be officially communicated to the political parties and other stakeholders” appears to open up a pathway for the collective claims to be considered a factor in the Commission’s deliberations, without any qualifying standard of burden of proof.
Meanwhile, Kaieteur News again contacted the Nicholsons for their response to the assertion that their denial of being out of the country was merely, as Craig asserted, “hearsay”. The couple provided to Kaieteur News scanned images of their passports which contained immigration stamps confirming that they left for Suriname in August and returned that same month, as they had claimed. The passports did not contain US visas or stamps from the JFK International airport. Craig did not respond to further questions with regard to the inaccuracies contained in Obermuller’s submission of ‘evidence’ to GECOM. Repeated questions were also posed to APNU+AFC supervisor, Darren Wade, on the veracity of the information contained in the document but there was no response.
When asked if they were willing to share who they voted for on March 2, the Nicholsons said that they both voted for the Coalition.
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