Guyana President confident of peaceful resolution to elections impasse

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Guyana’s President David Granger on Monday said he has acted in accordance with the country’s constitution and laws as results from the March 2, 2020 elections remain pending amid claims of electoral fraud.

“I assure the nation that, at all times, I have acted in accordance with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. After the elections on March 2nd, the nation awaited the declaration of the results by the Elections Commission after completing its work,” Mr Granger said in his first statement to the nation since elections day.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the constitutional body responsible for the conduct of elections in the new oil producing South American nation, has come under heavy criticism from a number of local and international groups that were in the country to observe the electoral process. The conduct of voting on elections day was deemed to be free and fair. However, the vote verification process for the most populous district – Region 4 – was not completed making it the only district out of 10 whose results were not verified. Despite this, GECOM proceeded to declare results for this district and publicize a tally of full results for all regions which showed the incumbent APNU+AFC Coalition winning the elections by around 1 seat.

Observer missions and the international community have said that the results of the elections would not be credible if the verification process was not completed while the opposition PPP/C said based on its own tally, it got the majority of votes, thereby winning the elections.

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“GECOM is an independent constitutional agency over which I and the Executive have no control. I assure you, that as President, I cannot, did not and will not interfere in the work of GECOM,” the President stated.

He said the PPP/C “created an atmosphere of intimidation and fear” at GECOM’s command centre where the verification process was ongoing and that this led to the interruption of GECOM’s work.

However, the PPP/C in a statement on Monday evening said this was not an accurate representation of what occurred.

“While Mr. Granger tries to cast blame on the PPP for what he calls an “interruption” of GECOM’s work, the fact of the matter is that the verification process was running smoothly and hundreds of Statements of Poll were verified, before a spreadsheet, with substantial variations in favour of the Coalition, was introduced into the process,” the party said.

The PPP said this incident led to a “vociferous protests” by all the political parties – “all of which called for the use of the spreadsheet to be discontinued and for there to be a return to verification of results for Region 4 using the Statements of Poll, as is required by law.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Granger said the PPP is disseminating a narrative that amounts to a “falsification of reality” which is at complete variance with the official declarations of the Elections Commission for the ten electoral districts. These declarations referred to by the President contain the unverified votes for Region 4.

In an effort to stop the swearing in of Mr. Granger based on the unverified results of Region 4, the opposition had obtained an injunction blocking GECOM from declaring the final results until and unless the elections body complied with the process as prescribed by law in section 84 of the Representation of the People Act. Section 84 of the Act sets out, inter alia, the procedure for tabulation of the elections results.

A case is now before the court to determine whether the verification process should continue. However, the international community, led by the United States have said that any results declared without the completion of the verification process would be unconstitutional.

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