…Surujbally urges media to pursue matter relentlessly
Outgoing Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr Steve Surujbally, has urged the media to be “relentless” in pursuing the origin of fake Statement of Polls (SOPs) that were discovered during the May 2015 general and regional elections.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday morning at GECOM’s headquarters in Kingston, Dr Surujbally called on the media to pursue the SOPs and find out who introduced the documents,as well as which political party or group stood to benefit from the move.
“When I tell my colleagues in the Caribbean that someone introduced false Statement of Polls into the count, they are flabbergasted. They cannot believe that somebody, some agency, some group could have done that,” the outgoing GECOM Chairman said.
But when he was asked those very questions at the end of the press conference, Dr Surujbally could not give any clear answer. He was asked whether he knew where the fake SOPs originated from. In response he said, “I will not do what others do and speculate. The answer to your question definitively…I do not know. There is empirical observation. There are certain matters that arose that will tend to lead us in certain directions. I am not going to comment on that.”
When pressed about what “directions” he is referring to, Dr Surujbally said, “Empirical data–-not proven data-–could point in a direction. The direction would be, the culprit, with further research, may be identified.” As regards which political party stood to benefit the most from the fake SOPs, the outgoing Chairman noted that the matter is a “complex and complicated” one. He said that one could argue that it could have been “even the winning party – not too sure they were going to win, remember it was a close election–-that they were the ones or the losing party or some wicked person or group wanting to claim some fame.”
He said that the 2015 polls were not rigged, noting that the results were close. He said if one wanted to rig the elections, that person/s would have chosen a 40,000 figure instead of 4,000.” So there can be no debate. It would have to be a massive conspiracy with lots of people involved…the word would get out.” he added. According to the outgoing Chairman, he has continuously asked for the evidence of rigging but to date, he has not been presented with any.
Following the elections in May 2015, GECOM made it clear that the fake SOPs were not tabulated as part of the preliminary and final results. The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) had alleged that there were hundreds of fake SOPs that were counted which led to the APNU+AFC winning the 2015 elections. At a press conference on May 14, 2015, Dr. Surujbally had said that the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) was lauded for finding the anomalies and highlighting them.
He recalled that as the SOPs came in, the Commissioners we were able to pick up that they were bogus. The SOPs used by GECOM during the 2015 elections were printed by a Canadian company with a number of security features. The media was told that the number of fake SOPs was not of that great quantum so as to disturb the outcome of the election.