Incumbent President David Granger – in an exclusive interview with Chairman of the Board of Directors of the state broadcaster, National Communications Network Television, Enrico Woolford – stated that he was “not afraid of the media” and urged journalists to be more truthful in their reporting on the election recount and its attendant issues.
“My only desire is that the media should be truthful,” Granger said, “and explain to the Guyanese people what has occurred since the second of March and I believe if the media were truthful, if political parties were honest, we would be able to overcome some of the anxieties and apprehension. There has been a lot of misinformation, there have been fake reports and this has caused the confusion.”
The President was responding to Woolford’s question about the increasing number of media outlets and the role of the social media in disseminating politically partisan false information. As Kaieteur News has been reporting there has been a marked increase in the incidence of such false information being pushed by political players, particularly during the past two weeks.
Last week for example, the APNU+AFC page posted that a coalition agent had found dozens of discrepancies in a Sophia ballot box that had not yet been opened to be recounted. Additionally, as reported in Kaieteur News, a Berbice couple, who had been included on a list of persons that the Granger-led coalition had claimed were marked as voting despite having migrated, proved that they were in the country and claimed to have voted for the coalition.
Most notably, on May 15th, the Granger government had issued a press release through the Department of Information congratulating the president on the 5th anniversary of his being sworn in and for his re-election.
“The people of Guyana in 2015,” stated the release, “elected President Granger for the honesty, decency and integrity which he embodies. And it is evident that after a successful first term as President the electorate of Guyana reposed confidence in his leadership and re-elected him for a second term.”
With the recount still in progress, GECOM has not determined the winner of the process.
Granger also took issue with what he represented to be inaccurate terminology in the reporting on elections.
The President said that it would be good “If the media explained to the public that the process embarked upon by Justice (Claudette) Singh is a lawful process and stop using words like ‘rigging’ which means nothing.”
While Kaieteur News and other media organisations have been providing evidence of the manipulation of the Region Four SOPs tabulation, the media has generally stopped short of using the word “rigging” unless directly attributed. However, the term has been increasingly employed by Granger’s subordinates in his own party, with – for example – PNC Executive Aubrey Norton saying as recently as last Friday, and quoted by the Granger government’s Department of Public Information, that “’They are saying that Mingo rigged, but the evidence is suggesting that in Region One there was rigging, in Region Two there was rigging, in Region Three there was rigging, in Region Four there was rigging, in Region Five there was rigging.”
Regarding the lawfulness of the process, as reported by multiple news outlets, including Kaieteur News, Granger subordinates Attorney-General Basil Williams and APNU+AFC candidate Roysdale Forde had both questioned the legality of the recount two weeks ago while addressing the media. Forde was also the lawyer for coalition candidate, Ulita Moore, in her unsuccessful bid to have the recount stopped on the basis of what she claimed to be its illegality.
The President said that the media should explain that GECOM is following a process that is “embedded in the Constitution, it follows the ruling of the court, it complies with the mandate of the Commission.”
“I’m not afraid of the media,” the President claimed in the Woolford interview. This is his second hour-long exclusive interview in as many weeks, the first being an online engagement with coalition supporter, Mark Benschop, for Benschop Radio on May 18.
The day before, May 17, Granger had held a less than twenty-minute long press conference with questions per media house limited to a maximum of two. In that press conference, in which he was assisted by his Press and Publicity officer, Arianna Gordon, and Telecommunications Minister, Cathy Hughes, the President refused to answer several questions put to him, including whether he still believed that he had won the elections based on the declarations made by GECOM. This would include the Region Four declaration made by Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, whose tabulation has been proven since to have been deliberately and systematically manipulated in favour of the President’s list of candidates.
That May 17 press conference marked Granger’s first public appearance since March. The Granger presidency has been criticised for his refusal to hold open press conferences and questions sent to his press and publicity team primarily go unanswered. In 2018, for example, only after tremendous media pressure, including formal complaints by the Guyana Press Association, Granger held only his third press conference since coming to power in 2015. His first press conference was held five months into his tenure in October 2015 and his second one was over two years later in December of 2017.
Since Norton’s appearance last Friday, in which he claimed falsely that a Bush Lot ballot box contained more votes than electors registered, no coalition representative has directly addressed the media.
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