THE ruling multi-party coalition APNU+AFC was poised to take control of two of the three new municipalities, but was tied with the PPP in the other after Friday’s historic vote at the Local Government Elections, party sources and Statements of Poll seen by this newspaper have indicated.
Bartica, Mabaruma and Lethem were gazetted new towns for this LGE, and the ruling coalition had campaigned robustly in those areas. In Bartica, the upstart independent group Bartica Independent Green Alliance (BIGA), which was seen as the coalition’s biggest test, was wiped out in most of the constituencies, with even the People’s Progressive Party/Civic upstaging them in many instances, based on SOPs posted outside of polling stations after the close of poll.
The Guyana Chronicle was told that the APNU+AFC coalition won 15 of the 18 constituencies in the township of Bartica, with two going to the PPP/C and one to BIGA. In Mabaruma, Region One (Barima-Waini) Guyana Chronicle Senior Reporter Alva Solomon said results from SOPs posted indicated that APNU+AFC and the PPP were tied, with each party obtaining six seats on the town council. There are six constituencies in the municipality, and the APNU+AFC led in three, while the PPP/C obtained more votes in the remainder. The town council consists of 12 seats, and these were shared by the two parties.
The main bone of contention came from Constituencies 2, 3 and 5. These are the Mabaruma Settlement /Barimanobo, Mabaruma Township/Compound/Broomes Estate and the Kumaka constituencies. It is here that the coalition scored heavily in terms of votes, since those three constituencies had more eligible voters. According to data obtained by this newspaper, the APNU+AFC obtained 777 votes while the PPP obtained 687 votes in the Proportional Representation numbers.
For the Candidates, the APNU+AFC obtained 776 votes while the PPP/C obtained 685 votes. The totals were presented by representatives of both the APNU+AFC and the PPP/C at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) office near the Mabaruma recreational ground. They both corresponded with each other.
For the PR aspect of voting, the APNU+AFC led in the SOPs posted outside the polling stations in those Constituencies late last evening. For Constituency 2 (Mabaruma Settlement/Barimanobo) the APNU+AFC obtained 204 votes while the PPP/C obtained 138.
In Constituency 3 (Mabaruma Township/Mabaruma Compound /Broomes Estate), the APNU+AFC obtained 192 votes while the PPP/C obtained 79 votes. The APNU+AFC also led in Constituency 3 (Kumaka), gaining 81 votes as against 42 votes obtained by the PPP/C.
The PPP/C obtained more votes in the remaining constituencies, including at Thomas Hill/Smith Creek (117), Barabina /Koberimo (113) and Hosororo Hill (189). The APNU+AFC respectively obtained 55, 86 and 147 votes for those three constituencies.
Late last evening, GECOM officials were busy in the sub-region as anxious supporters of both parties waited outside the Mabaruma Nursery School, where counting of ballots went late into the night. Later, fireworks were visible over Mabaruma and Kumaka as supporters of the Coalition seemed jubilant to hear the results that reached their area.
In Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), Vice Chairman of APNU, businessman Carlton Beckles of Lethem, last night projected a sure win for the coalition even as some polling had wrapped up for the night. He told this newspaper that APNU has reportedly taken three of the proportional representation seats and won four of the five constituencies. There are 10 seats in the municipality. Beckles stated that this win has given the party a seven-seat victory, which gives them a two-thirds majority thus far.
As he was speaking to this publication, last night in front of the APNU office in Lethem, a large crowd of residents had gathered to celebrate the anticipated victory. The mood last night was certainly one of obvious celebration, and Beckles added that he feels good at this time, but he pointed out that the party could have done better.
“We should have secured eight seats, but fell down a bit in constituency #5 (Tabatinga) area; but we are still pleased with the projected results so far.” Beckles said. He added that the people of Lethem have spoken in the LGE yesterday. He stated that the party’s plans are achievable, and they will deliver because they campaigned and they did not dream up anything.
Beckles added that it is just the beginning of good things for the people of Lethem, and once the results have been officially announced, the party will host a thanksgiving church service.
Noting that LGE had not been held for two decades, he said the people have embraced change, so much so that residents in the Savannahs are enquiring about the results.
Across in Bartica, according to preliminary reports based on the Statements of Poll published in the nine constituencies, the coalition has won 14 seats in the Proportional Representation and First-Past-The-Post components of the local elections. The PPP/C won three seats and BIGA secured one.
News of the preliminary results sparked wild celebrations at the APNU+AFC Party Office on Seventh Avenue Bartica, with scores of supporters flocking the building.
The coalition’s candidate for Mayor, Gifford Marshall, in an interview with this newspaper, expressed gratitude to the thousands of residents who trusted the leadership of the APNU+AFC.
“First of all, we want to say thanks to God for His faithfulness. We want to say thanks to God, for His goodness and His mercies endureth forever. I also want to say thanks to the people of Bartica,” Marshall said.
He added: “Today is one for the record books. Why? Because the people of Bartica spoke after 22 years of being denied Local Government Elections.”
The APNU+AFC candidate said that from all indications, residents voted on issues. “What we have noted [is that] the people of Bartica did not vote along party lines, but they voted for persons whom they trust; they voted for individuals whom they have confidence in, and we have a commitment now to the people to perform for the next three years,” he posited.
APNU+AFC Deputy Mayor designate Kamal Persaud told the Guyana Chronicle it feels great to win the support of the residents of Bartica. “It’s an extraordinary feeling to know the people in my community trusted in me and believe in my party,” she said.
Persaud said residents can expect improvement in the areas of infrastructure, drainage and irrigation, and waste disposal, among other areas.
BIGA Chief Candidate Holbert Knights, when contacted by Guyana Chronicle, conceded defeat. He said that based on the results of the elections, residents stuck with their parties and would have failed to put their trust in an independent group, in this case BIGA.
Pauline Sukhai, PPP Member of Parliament, acknowledged that Bartica is a traditional PNC stronghold. She said her party worked and campaigned “hard in Bartica; and while we have not won the majority, we will have a voice on the council.” Sukhai is the former Minister of Amerindian Affairs.
Georgetown, New Amsterdam and Linden, which have traditionally been held by the People’s National Congress Reform, a key partner in the APNU coalition, were also going the coalition’s way, based on results, trends and party officials. In Georgetown, a key constituency of the coalition, where several independent groups had emerged, including Social Activist Mark Benschop’s Team Benschop Party, the coalition could not be held back. It has been projected to have won approximately 10 of the 15 constituencies up to press time.
In Linden, the coalition was also dominant, based on SOPs seen by this newspaper.
Early in the day President David Granger had told reporters that he was confident that the coalition would receive overwhelming support in Lethem, Bartica and Mabaruma, as those three communities had recently received township status.
“This is something we promised since 2011, and I’ve been to all three…I have campaigned in all three, and they are very happy that it is the coalition that brought township…I think the coalition will have a decisive victory in all three,” he had predicted.