MAINTAINING its contention that the 2015 General and Regional Elections were rigged, the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) is expected to mount protest action outside offices of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) today.“Protest actions are also planned at all GECOM offices throughout the country to demand a total recount of all votes cast,” the party said in a statement.
The discovery of falsified Statements of Polls (SoPs); the refusal of GECOM to have public vetting of polling day staffers, many of whom were discovered to be activists of the political Opposition; 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, are among the irregularities the party will be protesting.
According to the PPP/C, electoral observer missions were “duped into believing that the elections were free and fair,” when the irregularities flagged in the electoral process tell a different story.
“The main aspect of the electoral process which was to observe the counting of ballots and the verification of Statements of Poll was left entirely in the hands of the GECOM officials, many of whom are activists and supporters of the APNU+AFC (A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change),” it said.
Five international election observer missions and 10 local observer groups were on the ground on Elections Day. The Organisation of American States (OAS), Carter Centre, Commonwealth, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Union of South American Nations had fielded close to 100 observers.
The 10 local groups accredited by GECOM include: The United States of America Embassy; the British High Commission; the Canadian High Commission; the European Union (EU) country office; the Private Sector Commission (PSC; the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI); Blue Caps; the International Republic Institute (IRI); the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU); and the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB).
The day after voting was completed, several of the international observer missions pronounced that the elections were free and fair. Some of the local observer groups followed suit soon after. The PPP/C has argued that the electoral process spans voting, counting and verification of the votes cast and, as such, the determination of whether the polls were free and fair could not be determined by the voting process alone.
INTEGRITY OF ELECTIONS
Additionally, the protest action by the PPP/C is expected to send a message regarding the integrity of the 2015 General and Regional Elections.
“The Central Committee remains convinced that based on feedback received from its Polling Agents and Statements of Poll received, it won the majority of the votes in both National and Regional Elections,” the PPP/C said.
The party had called for a recount of votes before the final declaration was made, but this was not granted. A second request for a country-wide recount was also rejected. The PPP/C leader, Mr. Donald Ramotar, then appealed for a recount of 22 ballot boxes where discrepancies were noticed, however, this was not done.
In a prior comment, Mr. Ramotar said, “We believe that these elections were seriously flawed, enough to change the outcome of the results. We believe that the data used by GECOM when they announced the numbers in their possession were numbers that did not reflect the vote in the boxes.”
He added, “I am talking about the integrity of our elections….we were asked about proof…they were saying that they did not have reasonable enough proof, but this cannot be regarded as unreasonable. Our view is that the evidence is enough to do a full recount, but if they don’t want to do that, let’s do Region 4.”
Mr. Ramotar stressed that there is evidence enough to justify a recount.
The PPP/C also maintains that, notwithstanding that support, the results of the election as declared by GECOM failed to reflect the true will of the Guyanese people.
APNU+AFC scored a close victory in the General and Regional Elections with 207,200 votes, while the PPP/C secured the support of 202,694 Guyanese who cast their votes in support of the party.
By Vanessa Narine