The members of the Caricom team who are observing the recount of the ballots of the 2020 elections will never forget their present experience. They can write a bestseller about the things they have seen and heard over the past few weeks in Guyana.
They will never experience anything like they are doing now. Not in their wildest imagination would they have imagined that they could be witnesses to the most palpable and pathetic display by a ruling Coalition which attempted to steal an election. This may appear all unreal but this is Guyana, the place where the most unimaginable things occur.
These observers would have seen a certain political party object to 24 names of persons who supposedly voted at a polling station in Belladrum, only to discover that the other parties only got a total of five votes at that polling station. It means that the party was objecting to 19 of its own supporters.
Newsroom Guyana reported yesterday that the APNU+AFC in one instance objected to 81 names when a ballot box was opened. GECOM staff had to go through the entire list to check off those names and, when they did, they found that only five persons of the 81 had actually voted. This is part of the tactic to delay and drag out the recount process. Where else in the world would such crazy objections be made?
These objections are the primary reason why the Caricom team is still here rather than back home. A process which should have been concluded in 25 days has now had to be extended because of the innumerable, specious objections which are being made to concoct a narrative of irregularities.
Well, this time is not long time. This time people are able to respond almost immediately to some of the allegations. This time the public and the media are doing far more fact-checking and doing so promptly. As we are seeing, the APNU+AFC is being exposed for what it truly is.
The Caricom team members must be bewildered by what they are witnessing. They would not have expected that these sorts of objections are being made in a simple recount exercise for an election which the ruling Coalition said they won and which they bragged would have been confirmed by the recount.
The team must be asking itself why a recount was necessary when the results of the districts so far completed – 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 – more or less confirmed with the results originally declared by the Returning Officers of these districts.
The only controversy was Region 4 and all it would have taken was for the Chief Elections Officer to simply produce his statements of polls and compare those with Mingo’s numbers for District 4. This would have avoided having to do a recount.
They would have seen the most unfathomable decision of the Chairperson of GECOM sending a list of supposed migrated persons for verification by the Chief Immigration Officer without first verifying that these persons had actually voted. What is the use of checking a list of alleged migrated persons when there has been no verification that these persons would have voted?
The observers would have been baffled just how given all the controls in place, the dead and migrated could have voted.
When they go back home, these observers are going to relay someday their experience of the recount and Guyana will not look good in the eyes of the Caribbean.
Guyana will continue to be shamed in the eyes of the Caribbean just like it was in the 1980’s when Guyana destroyed one of the instruments, which facilitated the trade in goods. Guyana bankrupted the Caribbean Multilateral Clearing Facility and this set back the integration movement like nothing else.
Guyanese used to be made fun of when they went to Caribbean countries. They were only allowed US$40 to leave with and the islanders used to laugh at Guyanese because of the foreign exchange controls which restricted the monies that persons could leave the country with.
When locals went abroad to conferences, their counterparts from the other islands would go shopping for nice gift items to take back home. Guyanese would go hunting for bread and cheese to bring back since these items were either restricted or in short supply.
Because of the economic crisis in Guyana, many persons left to find jobs in Caribbean islands. Many of them overstayed their time and stayed illegally in those countries. This too has given Guyana a bad reputation.
Now that Guyana is an oil-producing state, it provided an opportunity for our people to reclaim some self-respect. But look at what the APNU+AFC is engaged in at the moment. This is disgraceful and infamous. We will continue to be the laughing stock of the Caribbean.
When the dust settles on this elections process, Guyanese have some serious soul-searching to do. They will have to decide what sort of image they want for this country and how best they can avoid the shamefulness, which is taking place at the moment, whereby the losers of an election are claiming that the opposition rigged the elections for the ruling party to win.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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