The APNC-AFC put in motion a rigging machine to rig the 2020 General and Regional Elections after they had allegedly won the 2015 General and Regional Elections. It started with the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson to the helm of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
One must be reminded that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) had to move to the courts to have that hand-picked Chairman removed, which was done in June after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had ruled that the appointment was flawed.
The next plan of action was to have GECOM spend $3 billion embarking on an ill-advised house-to-house (H2H) registration exercise in 2019. This exercise was truncated after 370,000 persons were registered.
The H2H was deemed a ‘must’ by David Granger and his cabal, who said, “It is evident from the evidence provided that the voters List was bloated…given the size of our population, and much attention was focused on sanitising that voters List”.
After the Claims and Objections period was completed, there have been 32 objections to a list that the APNU+AFC claimed was bloated by more than 200,000 names.
The claims and objections were a very transparent process which GECOM had embark on. During this process, every political party in Guyana had the opportunity to make valid objections and remove persons who should not be on the voters list.
It was the APNU/AFC caretaker Government that made objections to thousands of living persons, claiming them to be dead. There was a fear that the APNU-AFC had a ploy to disenfranchise thousands of voters with a whopping 13,000 objections that were made in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) during the recently concluded Objections leg of the Claims and Objections period (C&O) in November 2019).
Amazingly, it was the PPP/C that fought to ensure Guyanese were not disenfranchised. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), however, rejected those objections to a total of over 13,000 names being on the voters’ list in Region Five alone.
The APNU-AFC cabal need to make up their minds. Is it the DEAD or the LIVING they are objecting to? However, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic was confident about winning the 2020 Elections if they are free and fair, but were concerned about the rigging by the PNCR masters. The biggest concern by all the opposition supporters was always that the elections would not be free and fair.
The opposition always knew that the PNC (People’s Nations Congress – the largest party in the APNU faction of the governing coalition) would attempt to create confusion by attempting to tamper with, and rig, these elections, but the opportunities to do so were limited, based on the safeguard of our electoral process.
The PPP/C has been constantly fighting off such efforts to rig the 2020 General Elections. All along, the Caretaker Government’s plans have been stymied because of a vigilant public, the free press, and our struggles to expose attempts to prepare for such an eventuality.
Then came the Government- nominated Commissioners at GECOM attempting to disenfranchise thousands of Guyanese who failed to uplift their National Identification (ID) Cards as well as contaminating the voters’ list by merging the unverified data obtained during the H2H exercise with the NRR, while the People’s Progressive Party managed to thwart all these efforts by GECOM and the APN/AFC Administration. They were also faced with a similar attempt when they wanted to use a flawed sampling system to verify the approximately 20,000 new registrants.
A total of $8 billion from the treasury had been given to GECOM to conduct that operation in 2019. for this massive expenditure, we have been faced with constant efforts to confuse and frustrate the electorate.
The no-confidence motion against the governing APNU/AFC Coalition by the Opposition, filed in our country’s Parliament on December 21, 2018, finally resulted in a general election that took place on March 2, 2020, a year after it was constitutionally due.
Just as controversy plagued the vote of no-confidence, so, too, has it afflicted the way the results of the election are being handled.
Three months after the vote, a clear winner has not emerged, but we continue to read editorial after editorial with captions like (GECOM) “working in the interest” of the current Government and “rigging the 2020 general elections right before our eyes”, “Election observers urge GECOM to announce results in a timely fashion”.
Nine of Guyana’s ten administrative regions had declared their results. The PPP was in the lead by more than 50,000 votes.
The only area left to declare its results was the APNU stronghold of Region 4, which includes the capital, Georgetown, continuing southward to Timehri, along the East Bank of the Demerara River.
Then all hell break loose. In a highly unusual move, election authorities delayed posting the results for the country’s most populous voting district, known as Region 4. All previous elections in Guyana have been determined by the voter turnout in this area. As Region 4 goes, so goes the election victory. Region 4 voters were effectively and arbitrarily disenfranchised by the Guyana Elections Commission.
Despite strong criticism from domestic and international observers for a lack of transparency, the Elections Commission released results to the media on March 13. The results show a win by the APNU–AFC coalition by 59,077 votes, which would give APNU-AFC a one-seat majority in the National Assembly.
The PPPP immediately rejected the results, and demanded a recount with independent observers in place. It accused the Granger Administration of vote-rigging and “thievery.”
In the aftermath of the contested vote, various international observer missions in-country, including the EU, Organization of American States (OAS), The Commonwealth and the Carter Center, concluded that “the tabulation of results for the election in Region 4 was interrupted, and remains incomplete.”
The United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Canada have monitored the process closely. They have made clear to all parties, including the Elections Commission, the need for a free, fair, transparent recount process to ensure the legitimacy of the victor and the subsequent Government.
After a lengthy legal battle and a decision by the Supreme Court, which was not initially accepted by the Government or the Elections Commission, the Commission did eventually adhere to the decision. It announced a recount of election ballots, which began on May 6, but failed to conclude within the 25 days allotted.
A new recount deadline has been set for June 13, with a final election decision to be announced on June 16. The Opposition has expressed “grave doubt” concerning the lack of transparency in the process so far, and questioned the Commission’s credibility in conducting the recount fairly and transparently.
The recount observation process includes only one high-level three-person delegation from CARICOM and a local OAS presence — enough to cover only a fraction of the counting stations. The Granger Government denied requests by the Carter Center to return to observe the recount.
The APNU/AFC now claim that the recount has revealed that the election of March 2, 2020 was riddled with fraudulent practices, and listed these as “the dead voted, people out of the jurisdiction voted, many unstamped ballots, missing certificates of employment, missing poll books, ballots cast over and above the number on the OLE, and other fraudulent practices.”
The APNU/AFC has failed to provide evidence of its allegations of fraud. In cases where it claims the names of the dead or those out of the country were marked off as having voted, it tells the GECOM officer in the recount that it will provide the evidence later.
It raised no such objection for all of the two months following the elections, until the recount started.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall in saying, “Once a fraud has been committed, it nullifies or voids the entire process.”
The People’s Progressive Party have always stuck to their guns; the SOPs prove they WON the elections, and they will not shift the goalpost and will stick to this position. “It is obvious victory is in sight” for the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic.
But it is the APNU/AFC Coalition, which continually changes its narrative, which has shifted the goalpost after claiming victory and holding a victory party after District Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo had made his fraudulent declaration on March 6.
Suspicion is that the Granger Government wants to cling to power because of the revenue experts project will be generated by ExxonMobil for oil exploration in a series of offshore wells being developed.
The international community has an essential role to play in demanding and accepting nothing less than a transparent and credible recount process, to ensure the will of the Guyanese people is honoured in their next People’s Progressive Party-elected Government.
Guyana stands at the threshold of an entirely new future. Its people deserve political leadership that looks to the common good over narrow interest. Guyanese everywhere: Guyana stands poised for a take-off. We are on the cusp of becoming a developed nation with enough wealth for this nation to take off on the road to massive growth under the leadership of a People’s Progressive Party/Civic- elected President.