REACTING to the release of the third round of preliminary results of the General and Regional election results, President Donald Ramotar was emphatic in stating that the process was “rigged” in favour of the political opposition.“We are convinced that these elections were rigged,” he said at a news conference, held yesterday at Freedom House, Robb Street.
He also made no bones about calling out the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on the question of collusion with the political Opposition, even as he acknowledged that not all of the polling- day staff acted in a manner that undermined the democratic process of May 11.
“We think that these are serious issues that deserve to be investigated and done before a final pronouncement on these elections is made,” Mr Ramotar said.
According to GECOM’s preliminary numbers, A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)is leading at the polls with some 206, 817 votes in the General elections, while the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) received the support of 201,457 voters in the May 11 national polls. At the regional elections, the PPP/C gained some 198,148 votes, while APNU+AFC leads with 201,324. Over 400,000 eligible Guyanese went to the polls on Monday.
The Head of State is calling for a total recount of the May 11 votes.
“We should have a total recount of votes; it won’t take a long time…to recount the whole election process to give this election credibility and integrity, we think that it is essential to have a total recount of the votes.”
According to him, there are many glaring discrepancies. “We have evidence,” he stressed.
One major issue Mr Ramotar highlighted is the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield’s, admission that falsified Statements of Polls (SoPs), which details the outcomes of votes cast, were submitted to GECOM.
Lowenfield on Wednesday night held back results for 490 polling stations out of the total 2,299 stations for this reason
It was disclosed that these faked SOPs had layouts and formats that were different from the authentic one earlier distributed by GECOM intended for use by Polling Agents.Additionally, these faked SoPs did not carry the GECOM endorsement which had been applied to all the SoPs purchased from Canada.
It was also observed that SoPs submitted to GECOM from the Electoral Districts had aggregate numbers of voters exceeding the voting population allocated to the polling stations.
President Ramotar stated too that GECOM will be asked to investigate the discrepancies, disclose the findings and implement the necessary remedies.
He also called on GECOM to establish the genuine nature of each Statement of Polls submitted to the Commission from the Electoral Districts.
These three requests – a total recount, investigation of discrepancies and implementation of remedies – are expected to be communicated to GECOM today.
NO BOGUS GOVT
Mr Ramotar made it clear that the PPP/C does not want a “bogus government” in power.
Another problem he pointed to was the fact that the number of votes cast at certain polling stations exceeded the number of persons who were listed to vote.
On Tuesday, other problems according to the PPP/C were documented and forwarded to GECOM. These include: misdirection by some GECOM staffers who advised voters, damaged stamps that saw some ballots not being properly stamped, the fact that persons without identification cards were allowed to vote even though their images did not match those in the files of GECOM staff and the denial of proxy holders to use their proxies, among others.
Asked if he would concede defeat if a recount resulted in a loss for the PPP/C, Mr Ramotar stressed that his party does not want to be in power, against of the will of the people.
The current fight, however he said, is in the interest of preserving the democratic gains made and in the interest of ensuring that the majority of the will of the Guyanese people is respected.
Once Returning Officers (ROs) in all 10 regions file their declarations of the final results in the May 11 General and Regional elections, the PPP/C is expected to file a formal request of a countrywide recount of all ballots cast on Monday.