– PPP calls pronouncements ‘demented’
– Granger maintains silence on contradictory position
APNU+AFC yesterday amplified its claims that even though the March 2020 elections were marred by what it claims to be widespread fraud, it is still the winner and should be declared so based on the ten pre-recount declarations.
Building upon sentiments previously expressed by multiple coalition agents over the past two weeks, APNU+AFC campaign manager Joseph Harmon gave a lengthy pre-recorded statement yesterday in which he claimed simultaneously that the elections were both fraudulent and that the Coalition had won.
“With Regions One and Two complete,” Harmon stated, “and counting underway for Regions Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven, our agents have noted an alarming number of discrepancies that lead us to conclude from our preliminary reports that results from the initially tall of votes are not credible. The declarations made and on record is that the majority of votes were cast in favour of the list of candidates for the APNU+AFC at the March 2, 2020 elections.”
Harmon’s focus on the previous declarations made in March – and temporarily set aside to facilitate the recount – as a basis for a ‘legitimate’ Coalition win is a theme that was previously pushed a week ago by fellow People’s National Congress (PNC) executive and current Attorney-General Basil Williams, who had stated that the recount was illegal and hence the previous declarations were the only legal declarations.
Harmon claimed that, “Evidence is emerging as clear as day. Our investigations have revealed that as at the 22nd day of May, 2020, the electoral theft and scheme is unraveling and 86,367 cannot be explained or accounted. This directly goes to the credibility of these elections. These unaccounted votes are evidence of a fraudulent attempt to steal the elections, suppress the will of the majority of the Guyanese people who voted for APNU+AFC.”
He stated that the Coalition had circulated a ‘document’ titled ‘Qualitative Irregularities – Votes Lack Credibility’. What was in fact circulated over the weekend was a flyer with a simple table claiming a total amounting to the 86,367 “Votes lacking credibility” across Regions One, Three, Four and Five. The numbers in the table vary across three categories, namely: Votes Affected By Missing Polling Books; Votes Affected by Missing OLEs; and Votes Affected By Variance In Ticked By Officials On OLEs.
Despite its insistence on providing what it claims to have been evidence of rigging in the election, none of which has been credibly verified so far and some of which have been proven to be false as covered by stories in the newspaper. The Coalition has engaged in a studied avoidance of the manipulation of the SOPs figures by Region Four’s Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo. Kaieteur News’ analysis of the Mingo declarations now covers 24 ballot boxes all coming from the East Bank of Demerara, showing that Mingo’s tabulation subtracted 341 votes from PPP/C, and added 1,164 votes to APNU+AFC. This amounts to a total variance of 1,505 votes from the corresponding statements of poll, for those 24 boxes.
Notably, Harmon’s statement was pre-recorded from what appears to be a private office and then distributed, as opposed to being given live on location at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre and fielding interview under the Recount Media Tent. In fact, yesterday marked the third day in a row since any member of the Coalition appeared to address the media, the last person appearing on its behalf was another PNC executive, Aubrey Norton.
Harmon’s decision to pre-record and broadcast the statement follows a series of calamitous interviews at the media tent by various Coalition members. On May 11, Alliance For Change Executive member Leonard Craig was caught stumbling trying to reconcile the conflicting claims that the elections were credible, that GECOM’s recount was showing anomalies and that Coalition had won based on its SOPs that were not revealed to the public.
Following that, there was Attorney-General Basil Williams’ claiming that the recount had no legal basis, a position he would deny making the next day after President David Granger had distanced himself from Williams’ pronouncement. The last speaker to appear, Norton, found himself simultaneously making the Coalition’s most direct attack on the credibility of the election and providing fictitious figures of a Berbice ballot box to support his claim that the Coalition had evidence of electoral fraud.
The Coalition leadership’s increasing refusal to face the media, even as its claims of the elections being fraudulent intensify, appears in keeping with the President’s own practice on engagement with the media and in answering specific questions with regard to the elections, the recount and their credibility.
The party’s position on whether the recount is credible has not been a consistent one, with the most apparent contradictions coming from Granger himself. While for example, he has insisted that CARICOM is a credible and trusted interlocutor in the elections impasse, his party’s recent campaign declaring the elections not credible contradicts that since CARICOM has said, as recently as a little under two weeks ago, that the “irregularities occurred not in the system by which the Guyanese electorate cast their votes on March 2, but in the presentation of the count afterwards.”
Granger has repeatedly avoided the question of whether he believes the elections were not marred by fraud, insisting on using the words “free, fair and orderly”.
He has also avoided any commitment to abiding by the outcome of the recount, saying instead, even as his juniors are insisting on reverting to the previous declarations, that he will abide by “any declaration” coming out of GECOM.
This is a theme he returned to in his Independence Anniversary message today, saying, “I urge you, also, to await the declaration of the results of the General and Regional Elections which were held on 2nd March. The Elections Commission, which is the sole authority charged with administering the elections in accordance with our Constitution, has responded in an orderly and lawful manner to the challenges which have arisen.”
When this paper messaged Granger’s press and publicity officer, Arianna Gordon, to clarify the President’s position on his party’s campaign to undermine the credibility of the election as well as Harmon’s claim that Granger should be sworn in on the existing ten declarations, she responded:
“President David Granger has repeatedly said that he will regard as legitimate any declaration made by the Chairman of the Elections Commission. He said this as recent as last Sunday during his briefing with the media at the National Aquatic Centre, Liliendaal.”
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