THE peace and calm that dominated voting in yesterday’s General and Regional Elections throughout the country failed to hold up at the close of polls last night, as fear, tension and intimidation stepped in, and even escalating to violence and unrest in Sophia where the home and vehicles of a PPP/C supporter was set on fire.
Former President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, addressing Reporters at a news conference at Freedom House at 2:30 hrs this morning, called on the leadership of the Opposition APNU+AFC to call off the mob, in the wake of violence and rising fear and tension that prevailed last night.
He drew the nexus between statements made by the leadership of the political Opposition that instigated its support base and which manifested into fear and intimidation.
As such, Dr. Jagdeo laid blame squarely at the door of the APNU+AFC for the unrests that were noticed in different parts of Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) last evening and into the night.
According to Dr. Jagdeo, APNU+AFC presidential candidate Mr. David Granger had some weeks ago called on the party’s supporters to ‘protect the ballots’. This, he added, was compounded by comments made yesterday by the party’s campaign co-chairman, Raphael Trotman, who called on supporters to ‘guard their votes’.
The result, Dr. Jagdeo highlighted, was that APNU+AFC supporters turned out at polling places where ballots were being counted and have been involved in less that constructive undertakings.
“We have been saying this,” he said, explaining that the PPP/C has repeatedly pointed to the dangers of making such calls.
The Former President noted that in addition to the unrest in Sophia, PPP/C party agents were beaten, threatened and some intimidated to the point that they were fearful for their lives.
“This is an orchestrated attempt to undermine the integrity of the process…they are solely responsible for the people, whose property was damaged and who were hurt,” he said, adding that the PPP/C lays the blame for the unrests at the door of APNU+AFC.
Similar incidents, Dr. Jagdeo related, played out on the East Coast of Demerara, according to reports that reached Freedom House, which indicated that busloads of Opposition supporters were dropped off at polling places in those areas.
The energy of supporter instigated, he said, was bolstered by the fallacious claim that the PPP/C sent one of its supporters to Tucville, Georgetown, at 11:00am to steal ballot boxes. “Why would we do this?” he questioned and reiterated that this was a ruse to reinforce the messages of ‘protect your vote’ and ‘guard your vote’, which were voiced by the APNU+AFC leadership.
“It was orchestrated,” Dr. Jagdeo declared.
The PPP/C executive urged security forces to do their job professionally and protect the Guyanese people and secure the integrity of the ballots and charged that Granger must “call off the mob.”
He explained that GECOM cannot deliver timely results if polling day staffers are trapped by mobs outside their polling places and cannot complete their work.
Dr. Jagdeo acknowledged that APNU+AFC has indicated that Guyana is at an unsatisfactory stage of the electoral process. “They have called for alacrity from GECOM when they are the problem,” he declared.
The former President expressed the hope that APNU+AFC is not setting the stage for additional upsets – by calling for supporters to guard votes, creating a ruse to say that ballots were under threat, deal with the resultant impacts of fear and intimidation, say that results are late and then questioning the results when they are finally declared.
PPP/C candidates, the former President said, have not been spared and he disclosed that party members, Dharamkumar Seeraj and Priya Manickchand, were unable to exit locations they visited after a mob descended on the locations.
“Be vigilant and remain calm,” he said, when asked what his message would be to the Guyanese public.
Dr. Jagdeo made it clear that the ruling party will reject any attempt by APNU+AFC to shift blame to Freedom House.
The party’s concerns have also been raised with the international Observers, according to him. “The PPP/C will ensure that every person gets justice,” the former President assured. (Vanessa Narine)