PPP/C calls on Police to probe ‘recount mischief’

…can incite problems; such actions have consequences – Dr Irfaan Ali
…APNU/AFC’s “secret meeting” rumours dismissed by GECOM

The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), Dr Irfaan Ali, is calling on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to look into instances of incitement being foisted on the public by members of the coalition: A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), which are meant to frustrate and protract the recount process.

PPP/C Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali

Describing it as “mischief”, Dr Ali gave the overview on Thursday, when the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) wrapped up its second day of recounting the ballots cast during the March 2, General and Regional Elections. The recount of 65 of the 2,339 boxes has now been completed.

Dr Ali drew reference to widespread reports which have been circulating during the

Security checks at the entrance of the ACCC on Thursday morning

course of the day, about a ‘secret meeting’ between GECOM Information Technology (IT) staff and PPP officials, including Dr Frank Anthony.
He noted that he was pleased to see the Commission address the matter, but warned: “We have to guard against this type of mischief. I think that the Police (Force) itself needs to look at issues like these, where you can incite problems in our society.”
According to Dr Ali, such actions “can rile people up…we have to be mature in our actions”; this as he reiterated that such actions have consequences.
APNU/AFC members James Bond and Christopher Jones, in addition to a social media page purportedly operated on behalf of David Granger and the coalition, had widely circulated the rumours.
Dr Anthony, who was named as one of the persons involved in the ‘secret meeting’, had earlier in the day denied the affair and told media operatives that he was making enquires in regard to the live streaming activity.
According to Dr Anthony, there were several persons in the room when he was making his enquiry, and they were within earshot of what had transpired.
GECOM Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward later told media operatives that the claim of a “secret meeting” between GECOM’s IT staff and PPP agents is being taken out of proportion.
Anthony has since clarified that he was merely making a few inquiries about the audio feed, and he said there were other persons in the room as well.
Ward, in fact, told media operatives that the incident occurred in the tabulation centre dome at the ACCC, an open room that is accessible to all party agents.
She reasoned, “I cannot understand how a space that is accessible to all party agents now becomes a private space…My understanding is that two of the IT staff were setting up their work area and they were approached by two party agents, and it was from there that the whole thing spin out of proportion as being termed a secret meeting.”
Nevertheless, the GECOM PRO noted that the seven-member Elections Commission is expected to further discuss the matter during a meeting that is currently ongoing.

Reckless propaganda
Claims about a “secret meeting” were also debunked by the Presidential Candidates of the Liberty and Justice Party and The Citizenship Initiative. LJP Leader Lenox Shuman, in a social media post, said, “This is not only irresponsible; it is also very dangerous.” He added that it is “reckless propaganda”.
Shuman subsequently told media operatives, “We have seen a lot of propaganda emanating from partisan sources, and we are happy to know that the PRO of the Guyana Elections Commission has dealt with those (emanations) very very decisively.”
Shuman did lament that to “see this propaganda also making its way to Mr Granger’s Facebook page speaks volumes to the motives behind such commentary”.
TCI party Leader and Presidential Candidate Rhonda Ann Lam also stated in a social media post: “I am in the tabulation room. There was no secret meeting nor cloak and dagger hastily arranged meetings. We all heard the IT Head repeat what he was asked and his answer. In fact, close to 20 people heard it. This is irresponsible posting to incite a party base and malign people’s character. It can also put GECOM staff at risk.”
Dr Ali also lamented that despite GECOM committing to have ‘frivolous’ issues being raised over and over by coalition agents being addressed, this was not to be.
“We were assured that the list of issues raised on the first day would have been compiled with a response from GECOM itself, so that those issues, if they were to recur today, would have been dealt with based on that listing…we have not received that listing (from GECOM) as yet,” he stressed.
Dr Ali reported that throughout yesterday’s recount activity at the ACCC, the same situation obtained, leading to continual delays in the recount process.

Early close-off
Dr Ali lamented that the coalition agents in the process were again allowed to close off the recounting activity early. According to Dr Ali, coalition agents at two of the ten counting stations decided, shortly after 17:00h, that they would not be opening any more ballot boxes to be counted, since, based on the trend, they would not be able to complete the box before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown.
He told members of the media encamped outside the venue that the GECOM supervisors advised that the process would continue, but the agents refused to turn over the keys to the containers in their possession in order to allow the process to continue.
The politician posited that the actions on the part of the coalition agents were in fact meant to frustrate the system through their continued objections in order to “stretch the recount out.”