Security of ballot boxes crucial to transparent recount – Jagdeo
Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, Bharrat Jagdeo, is extremely concerned over the safety of the ballot boxes which are currently being housed at GECOM Headquarters on High Street, Kingston.
This in light of a decision made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to proceed with a national recount of the votes cast in the March 2 poll.
Speaking during a virtual press conference on Friday, Jagdeo noted that his concerns stem from the series of past attempts made by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) and the continued attempts to sabotage the completion of a credible election following the May 2, 2020 poll.
Jagdeo is adamant there is “a criminal cabal, I suspect very fearful of the consequences of what any legal or investigation could reveal, trying to stage a coup d’état; and this criminal cabal is made up of some former ministers and others from the APNU and AFC, a small group of Ministers and officials from APNU/AFC, those who have benefited the most from the criminal acts over the last five years—large scale acts of thievery and corruption — and some of their business partners, joining with some elements within GECOM and some members of the legal fraternity, and a few others who are part of this criminal cabal that will do whatever it takes to try to alter the results of the elections.”
The Opposition Leader was adamant that there is a new struggle and hurdle in the path of credible elections and a legitimate president being sworn in.
“They will continue to the very last day to try to get a president sworn in on the basis of fraudulent results that were announced,” he stated.
Jagdeo used the occasion to also warn that APNU+AFC officials are in fact “trying to judge-shop, hoping that they can get a favourable judge to give a decision that would stop the recount. Look at the extent that they have gone to, contrary to their public statements, that they have gone to, that they want the recount…”
He went on to point to the cases filed by the APNU/AFC before the Courts to prevent the national recount. “They have gone to a great extent to stop this recount, and even now they have another case filed before the Court of Appeal. So, that criminal cabal is hoping that somehow, through the judicial process, that the recount would be stopped and then Justice [Claudette] Singh and the Commission would have no choice but to declare a president on the basis of these fraudulent results,” he posited.
While optimistic that the Election Commission has decided to move forward with the recount, Jagdeo expressed concerns over the safety of the ballot boxes, saying, “They will continue to try to sabotage and undermine it, and that is why we think the safety of the ballot boxes is crucial for us and the integrity and transparency of the recount process; whenever it happens is of paramount importance to us.”
Noting that a month has elapsed since Guyanese took to the polls and a legitimate president has not been sworn in, Jagdeo assured the public that the fight for credible results “has become, for us, an existential struggle.
“Not a struggle of the People’s Progressive Party, but a struggle for all decent-minded Guyanese here and abroad for the future of our country, for the condition in which we want to live the rest of our lives; whether we will allow bullyism and dictatorship, and criminal behaviour to win out in this period, or whether the decent people of this country will wage the fight for freedom and for democracy and for decency to be the governing condition in which we live. And that is the fight that we are waging, and there is no giving up on this fight,” he stressed.
The PPP General Secretary once again opined, “Most of Guyana would by now know that the People’s Progressive Party won the elections that were held on March 2. Almost all the small parties have conceded that.” He pointed to the statements of poll and tally sheets that they have published for Region Four that would have cemented their victory. He also reminded Guyanese of the declaration made by the international community, diplomatic community and observer groups: that the declaration made by Returning Officer of Region Four, Clairmont Mingo, was not credible.
“Have moved several times to get the president illegally sworn in, but they’re the ones that have decided to make a declaration to say that they have won the elections, in total breach of the entire Memorandum of Understanding”.
When the recount commences, Jagdeo is hopeful that the Observers will be present, and that considerations would be made to have the process televised, as he said the GECOM Secretariat staff is compromised.
These concerns come two days after international democracy watchdog The Carter Center issued a statement which alluded to the APNU’s fight to maintain power being tied to control of Guyana’s newfound oil wealth, and noting that court proceedings being filed by APNU candidate Ulita Moore were part of attempts to frustrate the electoral process.
The Center has also reiterated its commitment to oversee the completion of the electoral process.