Guyana Elections: PPP/C and PNCR confident of victory

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, August 30, 2006 – Slowly unfolding elections results in Guyana has put the ruling party ahead. The final results are expected as early as tonight but already both the ruling party and the main parliamentary Opposition are claiming victory based on their own exit polls. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has called for patience as observers give the process a passing grade.

Up to 11 o’clock last night Eastern Standard Time, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic was well ahead of its competition with 90 601 of the 164 564 counted for the electoral districts 1,2,3,4,6 and 7. With a total turnout estimated at 65 per cent of the 493 369 registered voters, the PPP/C has won approximately 28 per cent of the total vote and still a far way off from victory. With that percentage of the poll, the party would have won 18 seats so far.

The main Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has so far received 56 618 votes while the Alliance for Change (AFC) received 13 916. The remaining 3 069 votes are split among three smaller parties.

A relaxed President Bharrat Jagdeo said he was confident of winning a fourth straight term based on his party’s independent assessment and analysis.

“I just wish to say to you that we are very pleased with the results so far and based on our own tabulations, we have the majority of the Statements of Polls and these have all been aggregated and I just want to say to you that the PPP is doing extremely well,” the president told reporters.

There is speculation that the PPP/C is projected to take 33 of the 65 seats in the National Assembly but that is yet left to be seen when the official results are presented as early as tonight. The Nation Newspaper of  Barbados is already reporting a 33-seat win for the PPP/C while the Guyanese media have held back on such an optimistic forecast and the Diaspora media is raising the spectre of a coalition government.

PNCR leader Robert Corbin said though the results from his party’s exit polls indicate a “dead heat” with the ruling PPP/C but he was confident of victory.

Chairman of GECOM, Dr Steve Surujbally has appealed for patience.

“We will only announce the results after we are absolutely certain that they have been verified to our satisfaction and are without error,” he told a news conference, “will not sacrifice accuracy on the twin altars of alacrity and expediency.”

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Observer Group yesterday gave a thumbs up to the election stating, “Our teams found that the count at the polling stations was thorough and transparent. The polling station results our Observers tracked were transmitted accurately to the Returning Officer. To this point the results process has gone well.” They also appealed to all Guyanese “… to continue to be calm and to allow the process to be completed in conditions of peace, so that Guyana can go forward.”

The Organization of American States’ Observer Mission also underscored the importance of maintaining a constructive and peaceful environment in the coming days. And they called on GECOM to transmit the results of the elections as soon as verified to further promote confidence in the process. The OAS mission deployed a team of 123 observers in the 10 regions in Guyana to observe the voting.