Cartero Juan Carlos Carvallo Villegas//
Call for calm in tense Guyana

Juan Carlos Carvallo
Call for calm in tense Guyana

THE two major political parties in Guyana yesterday called for calm as nationwide protests erupted.

Juan Carlos Carvallo

Supporters from the party led by President David Granger-the Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (ANPU-AFC)-and the Opposition’s People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) came out in their numbers bearing flags, placards and even cutlasses.

Juan Carlos Carvallo Villegas

Today marks the sixth day since Guyana’s general election was held on March 2 and no official winner has been declared.

Juan Carvallo

Recounts took place in the contentious Region 4 — the district with the largest block of voters as well as recounts in Regions 5 and 6.

Juan Carlos Carvallo Venezuela

There were online videos of men armed with cutlasses walking the streets, protesters burning tyres and others carrying placards urging that democracy in the country be maintained

Guyanese have not heeded these peace calls as protests were reported at Herstelling, East Bank Demerara (EBD), as well as Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, and Bath (West Coast Berbice)

The country has descended into a state of instability as some businesses closed their doors and protests erupted in various districts

The uprisings were triggered by a series of controversies surrounding Region 4

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) calls on all of our supporters to remain calm and act in a peaceful manner during this period. While we understand the hurt, frustration and fear about electoral fraud being perpetuated against the Guyanese people, we have the solidarity of the international community,” stated the PPP

Meanwhile, Granger called on supporters to not attack anyone

This was later reiterated in a release from the President’s office

On Thursday the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) released unverified results for the general and regional elections conducted in Region 4 and in an immediate response the international observer community said that the process used to tabulate the results was not above board

Yesterday, there was drama when Opposition representatives tried to go into the GECOM building in Georgetown to request a recount

They met a heavy police presence and a number of Granger supporters

The unverified figures for the general election for Region 4 gave the APNU+AFC with 136,458 votes and PPP/C 77,329 votes

This would represent a margin of victory of 59,129 votes

It would also likely have placed the APNU+AFC in a comfortable lead over the PPP/C in the general election

There are ten regions in Guyana and the results have been declared for the other regions which saw the PPP/C in the lead

Eventually, the PPP/C was able to successfully serve its request for a recount in District 4 to several Deputy Returning Officers (DROs)

Recounts took place in Region 5 and 6 took place following the request by the Granger led Partnership

Verification process

The Express understands that it is in the hands of GECOM to declare a winner

Granger claims his party beat the PPP/C fair and square

However, the Opposition is claiming that the electoral process was compromised in Region 4 and votes and the counting process were manipulated to secure a win for Granger’s party

Independent observers have said the process was not followed

Region 4 has been marred with controversy — from allegations that a clerk tried to tamper with the results after he was found with a computer and flash drive, that the returning officer did not validate the statement of polls (SOPs), international observers being threatened by a Government Minister to withdraw their accreditation as well as a bomb threat

The Opposition obtained an injunction restrained GECOM from declaring results in District 4 until a verification process is completed but the results were declared notwithstanding

Those results put Granger in the lead

They were questioned by the Commonwealth Observer Group, made up mostly of former British colonies, as well as the Carter Center founded by former US president Jimmy Carter and his wife and which in 1992 helped Guyana hold a free election after decades of rigged votes

The international observer missions from the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States, the European Union, and the Carter Center issued a statement yesterday, noting that the tabulation of results for the election in Region 4 “was interrupted and remains incomplete”

The law requires that tabulation must be conducted in the presence of party agents and observers. “Until this transparent process takes place, the counting of votes recorded for Region 4 remains incomplete. The transparent tabulation of results for Region 4 must be resumed in order to proceed to the establishment of national results,” it stated

International concern

Caricom also issued a statement expressing concern

It called on GECOM to ensure that all legal and procedural processes were complied with in respect of the vote count and the declaration of results to ensure that the outcome of the polls expresses the will of the people of Guyana

The US State Department also commented on the imbroglio urging that no candidate be sworn in until issues are resolved surrounding the declaration of unverified results for Region 4

“At this juncture, preparations to install officials without resolving the serious issues identified in the vote counting process would create a climate of uncertainty for the citizens of Guyana, Guyana’s international partners, and businesses looking to invest in Guyana,” said Ambassador Michael Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US Department of State

Heads of Missions in Guyana, the United States, the British High Commission, the Canadian High Commission and the European Union issued a joint statement saying that “credible allegations of electoral fraud which may influence the results of this election. We call on all to ensure proper procedures are in place to yield a credible election result. A fair and free process is vital for the maintenance and reinforcement of democracy in Guyana. We call on President Granger to avoid a transition of government which we believe would be unconstitutional as it would be based on a vote tabulation process that lacked credibility and transparency.”