Kenya, Guyana elections share close similarities

says former President Ramotar

Recent pronouncements with regard to Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidating the result of its recent contentious presidential election and ordering a new vote have drawn global attention, particularly among the political sphere in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Former President Donald Ramotar
Kenya’s Opposition Leader, Raila Odinga arriving at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on Friday last. The court nullified last month’s presidential election (Photo credit: Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

Former President Donald Ramotar said he has noted the decision, describing the court’s ruling as a historic one, which spells good for democracy, not only in Kenya, but in Africa and the world. But Ramotar also claimed that there were many similarities and many lessons to be learnt.
“It is apposite to note that the reasons for pronouncing the elections null and void has many similarities with the elections in Guyana, held on May 11, 2015,” he stated.
In a historic ruling, the first in Africa, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified on Friday last the re-election of a sitting president, ordering a new vote to be held within 60 days after finding that the outcome last month had been tainted by irregularities.
It was a stunning moment for Kenya, one of Africa’s most populous nations, and for democracy in general. Kenya’s disputed presidential election in 2007 set off bloodshed that left at least 1300 people dead and 600,000 displaced around the country.
The Kenyan Court found credible evidence of fictitious polling places and statements of poll. In Guyana, one of the charges was that fake statements of poll were used to determine the elections results.
Ramotar said another similarity was while the information communication system was hacked in Kenya, in Guyana, that specific department was shut down during the May 11, 2015 elections. “It was not used to tally the votes to determine the results of the poll as the law prescribed,” he added.
Further, the former Guyanese Head of State also noted that both Kenyan and Guyanese elections clearly instructed that international observers need to be more thorough in elections observations. Kenya’s election saw representatives from both the Carter Center and the European Union present.
“In Guyana, we have had international observers, including the Carter Center too. Yet significant alleged fraud took place in Kenya and in Guyana,” Ramotar argued.
He also highlighted the fact that in Kenya’s case, in less than a month the courts there heard the matter and pronounced on it. This, according to the former President, is a giant step forward in the advancement of democracy and the rule of law.
“In Guyana, after more than two years, the case cannot be heard. This is due mainly to the manoeuvring of the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the sloth of the Judiciary.
“In normal circumstances, the CEO and Secretariat of GECOM would be pushing to vindicate themselves in the courts and in public opinion. It is, therefore, strange and monstrous that the body is trying to frustrate the hearing by the court,” he further added.
On that note, Ramotar said the delay in addressing this matter would further undermine the country’s democracy and possibly lead Guyanese to a period similar to the late 1960s up to 1992, which he said was marked by rampant electoral fraud and dictatorship.
“I wish to express my congratulations to the Court in Kenya on the professional and efficient way in which it conducted itself. This is a great example to all countries striving for democratic government, separation of power and the rule of law,” Ramotar asserted.
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has made several claims against the validity of the results of the 2015 General and Regional Elections. The PPP/C had requested GECOM to conduct a recount of the ballots cast in view of several irregularities and discrepancies found during the elections.
Ramotar, who was President before that election, had said that the repeated requests were denied by GECOM, without taking into consideration the real concerns that have been brought to their attention by the Party. Ramotar had said, “My Party remains convinced that a recount would have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the electoral process had been compromised and the PPP/C would have won.”
GECOM disagreed, however, and proceeded to declare the final results, after which David Granger was sworn in as the new president of Guyana. More than 410,000 votes were cast in those elections, with a negligible number going to smaller, less known parties. The results gave the coalition 33 seats in the National Assembly, and the PPP/C 32, with the coalition holding the executive arm of Government.