…APNU+AFC charges as GECOM counts 87 boxes on Friday
By Gabriella Chapman
OF the 964 ballot boxes processed thus far in the national recount, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has been raising several anomalies in the various workstations and has charged that the March 2, elections were not credible.
On Friday, a total of 87 boxes were processed, and the total tabulated have increased to 928 and 927 for General and Regional elections, respectively. Amidst the increased pace of the process, the coalition continues to note anomalies at every station.
In fact, APNU+AFC agent, Aubrey Norton, said that their party has now taken the position, that these issues raised can no longer be termed ‘anomalies’, but rather, serve as clear evidence of fraud and rigging of the elections. He said that based on their evidence and what was witnessed in the recount centre, the numbers suggest that out of the 600+ boxes counted thus far, many illegalities were noted.
From what his party has gathered, he said many people voted without a certificate of employment. “If you’re voting from a polling station away from where you are registered, you are given a certificate of employment. It means if you allow people to vote with no certificate of employment, you become involved in fraud and illegality.
These are figures for those who voted without the certificate: Region One – 59 people voted without certificate of employment, Region Two – 110, Region Three – five, Region Four – 69, Region Five – seven, Region Six – none as yet because that has now started. But that gives you a total of 250 persons, who have voted under the claim of certificate of employment, but didn’t provide any certificate,” Norton told the media.
He also gave figures for the proof of dead and migrated people that they would have found that voted, thus far. “The dead in the five regions so far, we have seen 37, and the death certificates are emerging for them, we’re doing the work. People who are out of the jurisdiction – Region One – 40, Region Two – 229, Region Three – 408, Region Four – 310, Region Five – 61. That is 1,048 who are out of the jurisdiction and voted just in this small catchment area.
Then, if you don’t have an ID card, you are allowed to vote, but to vote, you must have an oath of identity. A number of people have voted without ID card and this is what we have been able to catch without oaths of identity. Region One – 33, Region Two – seven, Region Three – 25, Region Four – 59, Region Five – 19. What this is illustrating is that the process teams with irregularities,” Norton said.
Pointing further to the issue of unstamped ballots. He said that there is a clear correlation between unstamped ballots and the coalition’s strongholds. “We’ve seen wherever there was intermixing for the Joint Services, a large amount of ballots have not been stamped. Let us understand that Joint Services is over 8,000 votes. And I believe strategically, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), chose those intermixing centres and worked with the POs they control to ensure that those ballots weren’t stamped.
These are no longer anomalies, this is clear evidence of fraud and rigging… I want to point out that the People’s Progressive Party has developed a strategy of focusing on Region Four and Mingo. They’re saying Mingo rigged. But the evidence is suggesting that in Regions One, Two, Three, Four and Five, there was rigging. What they are seeking to do is to create one narrative that one man rigged. The tactic really is to shift away the focus from what happened in the other regions,” he said.
Exposing other strategies of the opposition, Norton said that the PPP is attempting to redo what they did in March, to have the public believe that they won, and accuse the coalition of rigging.
“At this stage, what they are seeking to do is to take the results that come early, and suggesting that they are winning, that they’re in front. All the elections that I know in Guyana since this Regional system is in place, when the results are coming, because the PPP generally dominates in Regions One, Two, Three, Five, Six and Nine, and the APNU+AFC in [Regions] Four, Seven, Eight and 10, it means logically, that our bulk of votes will come towards the end. And I want to urge Guyanese not to be carried away by this, because it could be a ploy to suggest and do like they did the last time, very early to say they won,” Norton cautioned.
In fact, he said this can very well be seen as a repeat of history, since in 1997 elections, while he was the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC), they had quite similar occurrences. Alluding further that this recount has to be seen more than just one that is numerical, but rather, one that tests credibility.
“In 1997 they did the same thing, even before Region Four was concluded, they said they won and we had an audit. That audit had shown that 70,000 votes weren’t accounted for. And because of that history you have to be very very careful. I also want to point out that in box 5083 at Bushlot, the OLE had 199 persons, the PPP got 199 votes, the APNU got four. We have identified 25 people that would have migrated. That can’t be the results… This count is more than numerical, it is about credibility of the elections. And in our view, it can’t be credible if it is filled with illegalities, if it is filled with fraud. And so to talk about this being a numbers thing, yes there are numbers to be counted, but there are also numbers to be deducted for illegalities,” Norton asserted.
Even though his party has been convinced that the illegalities allegedly perpetuated by the PPP has tampered with the credibility of the elections, he said that it is the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) who has the final say in determining whether it is credible or questionable. However, given that the Chair of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh, has said that ‘he who asserts must prove’, Norton said that his party is ready and equipped to prove their numerous claims when the time comes. “The thing to do is not to run ahead of the process, let the process take its course. I understand the legal concept and when the time comes to provide proof that will be done. But this is like a court. We expect a time will come when we have to produce the evidence that exist, then allow GECOM to determine what the decision is,” he said.
Meanwhile, PPP/C agent, Anil Nandlall, is of the view that the gazetted order for this recount doesn’t provide for a period to produce any evidence. In fact, he claims that these issues being raised by the APNU+AFC are fallacious. But in the same breath, has not produced any evidence to discredit the claims of the coalition. Rambling for 30 minutes, throwing below the belt jabs at the APNU+AFC, Nandlall told the media that the narrative being fed by the party is one that is false.