GECOM moves ballot boxes without informing parties
…action labelled as ‘deceitful’
A decision to move ballot boxes stored in containers at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), sent political party agents scrambling on Friday afternoon to ensure that the containers were secured and not tampered with by anyone.
The containers were stored at the facility pending a countrywide recount of votes cast at the March 2 General and Regional Elections
Under Police escort, the containers were transported from Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown, to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) headquarters on High Street, Kingston, Georgetown.
Opposition parties would have camped outside of the Centre on a 24-hour basis to guard the containers while one party agent was allowed inside. However, despite their active role, the parties were not informed of the decision to have the containers removed.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Assistant Secretary for A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Kian Jabour said the situation is concerning since this decision was not communicated to the parties.
“You don’t want to raise any alarms but the big issue is that they didn’t let us know at all that this was being done at this time. That’s where you’re seeing this scramble of everyone confirming that these containers are leaving from the Conference Centre and GECOM headquarters,” Jabour expressed.
As soon as the containers left the Centre’s premises, they were followed by a fleet of vehicles from the opposition parties, so as to ensure that all were held safe. He said that party agents will continue to watch over at the GECOM Secretariat. Thus far, the opposition parties have joined forces to watch over the ballots – which he underscored must be free from tampering.
“Every container that leaves here is going to have at least 10 people behind it…The reason is that these are the last credible evidence of what took place in the 2020 elections here in Guyana…Like everything else that has been done, things have been happening haphazard throughout this whole crazy process. That’s why all the opposition political parties have been able to pull their resources and work together because we need to make sure that these containers are secured,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) candidate, Juan Edghill also showed up at the Conference Centre, where he said that even GECOM Commissioners were unaware of plans to move the boxes. When the first truck appeared to transport the boxes, stakeholders watching from the streets shared the information.
“We got word from our representatives that were physically onsite that they saw haulers that would move the containers, arriving…We contacted our Commissioner Robeson Benn to find out if GECOM had made a decision. Mr Benn had no knowledge of any GECOM decision and he had no knowledge that containers were being removed,” Edghill outlined.
He went on to say that there was an outright objection to this decision initially, after questioning the rationale and the person being this decision.
“Obviously, we objected. We wanted to know where the containers were going, on who’s instructions they are being moved. Eventually, the police officer who was in charge indicated that he had received instructions to remove them to Kingston.”
Under the umbrella of transparency, he labelled the shady move as ‘psychological warfare’. According to Edghill, it sends a statement that there is an impossibility in recounting the ballots, even though the coalition-sponsored injunction to block this process is still at the hands of the judicial system.
“This exercise here this afternoon is psychological warfare. A court case is being heard that blocks a recount. These are the masterminds of the rigging machine that want to send a message to the Guyanese people. These containers came here for the purpose of a recount and the fact that they’re being picked up to carry elsewhere is to send a statement that the whole issue of a recount is over,” the candidate berated.
Over at the GECOM headquarters, Executive Secretary of the leading Opposition, Zulfikar Mustapha labelled the move of the containers as deceitful, owing to GECOM’s failure to make the process transparent.
“It seems that everything that GECOM does since the elections is done in controversy, done against the law because they are not abiding by the law…I’m very disappointed. I think this is very deceitful on GECOM’s part,” Mustapha positioned.
He alleged that the Secretariat is flouting the laws and acting in contradiction to the Constitution from which it was birthed.
“If we want to build trust in GECOM as a body that has to be mutual and run this election free and fair, then they would have informed all the stakeholders which is provided by the law. It shows that GECOM is flouting the laws.”
GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj told the media that despite the fact that he is a Commissioner, he was never informed of the decision to move the containers. He noted that he was informed of the decision via the media.
For now, party agents will continue to guard the containers at the GECOM headquarters.