Guyana in Limbo: Election Observers Concerned About Tabulation Process; Foreign Envoys Say No Winner Should Be Declared

The OAS observer mission is among those expressing concern.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday March 6, 2020 – Four days after regional and general elections were held in Guyana with still no winner officially declared, regional and international observers are expressing concern about the tabulation process in the country’s largest voting district, and have urged authorities not to name a victor in the polls.

Yesterday, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) released results for Region 4 – in which the country’s capital, Georgetown, is located – that would result in the incumbent

A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) coalition returned to government. But the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is adamant that if the statements of poll are verified, it would emerge victorious.

The opposition party late yesterday secured a court ruling compelling the commission to verify results before publishing.

The results provided by GECOM showed the APNU-AFC coalition securing 136,335 votes while the PPP/C got 77,258 in Region 4 (Demerara-Mahaica) which had 285,618 registered voters.

There were several delays to completing the required process in Region 4, including a bomb scare at GECOM’s command centre where the verification of statements of poll was taking place.

Although the general consensus was that Monday’s elections were free and fair, observer missions are keeping a close eye on the tabulation process in Region 4.

In a joint statement, the missions from the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and The Carter Centre said the tabulation “remains incomplete”.

“The law requires that tabulation must be conducted in the presence of party agents and observers. Until this transparent process takes place, the counting of votes recorded for Region 4 remains incomplete. The transparent tabulation of results for Region 4 must be resumed in order to proceed to the establishment of national results,” it said, adding that a “calm and conducive environment must be provided by the police”.

“We urge all political parties to adhere to the codes of conduct signed by them. The Guyana Elections Commission, including the chairperson, the commissioners, the chief election officer, the returning officer and deputy returning officers in Region 4, must be available and committed to establish the results for Region 4 in accordance with the law.

“Until this occurs, the result of these elections cannot be credibly declared,” the international observers added.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) observer mission also issued a brief statement, saying that it was concerned about the allegations with respect to the tabulation of results based on the Statements of Polls in Region 4.

“The Community calls on the Guyana Elections Commission to ensure that all legal and procedural processes are faithfully complied with in respect of the vote count and the declaration of results to ensure that the outcome of the polls expresses the will of the people of Guyana. We call on all parties and Guyanese to remain calm while these issues are resolved,” it said.

The PPP, meantime has also urged calm, telling its supporters that they have the international community on their side.

“While we understand the hurt, frustration and fear about electoral fraud being perpetuated against the Guyanese people, we have the solidarity of the international community,” it said.

“They have all made it clear that as it stands results of the Elections cannot be credibly declared and there can be no swearing-in of a president since such an action would be illegal.

“The PPP agrees with the international community; there can be no swearing in of a new president under the current circumstances. The Party wishes to also warn that public officers, especially constitutional office holders, facilitating such an illegal action would be complicit in the perpetuation of electoral fraud in Guyana,” the PPP added.

It further insisted that there must a return to the process of verifying the results of the elections for Region 4, using the Statements of Polls, as required by law.

“This is the only process that will deliver free and fair elections and ensure that the will of the Guyanese people is not subverted. The People’s Progressive Party continues to work towards this objective,” the party said.

Meantime, United States, British, Canadian and European Union envoys urged authorities to hold off declaring a winner until issues have been resolved.

They issued a joint statement in which they expressed “deep concern over credible allegations of electoral fraud which may influence the results of this election”. 

“We call on all to ensure proper procedures are in place to yield a credible election result. A fair and free process is vital for the maintenance and reinforcement of democracy in Guyana,” said the statement from Heads of Mission of the Embassy of the United States of America, H.E. Sarah-Ann Lynch, the British High Commission, H.E. Greg Quinn, the Canadian High Commission, H.E. Lilian Chatterjee, and the Delegation of the European Union, H.E Fernando Ponz-Canto.

“We call on President [David] Granger to avoid a transition of government which we believe would be unconstitutional as it would be based on a vote tabulation process that lacked credibility and transparency.”

Meantime, President Granger this morning met with CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and reiterated that the polls had been orderly, and in full compliance with the law and the Constitution.

“We are awaiting the final declaration from GECOM,” he said.

Recounts requested by the APNU-AFC coalition are underway in Regions 5 and 6.

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