I agree wholeheartedly with all the demands for transparency, credibility, accountability, fairness and obedience to the law in every aspect of the election cycle. I, most certainly, do not support intimidation, threats, violence and terror and do not accept that the demand for the former justifies the employment of the latter. It is very unfortunate that many of those, local and foreign, claiming to champion democratic ideals and values are silent regarding aggression and violence.
There are clearly many experts regarding the verification of statements of poll (SOP) and their tabulation in District (Region) 4, all of whom are convinced that the process was abused and violated by the Returning Officer and is, therefore, illegal and void. I confess that I am not to be counted among those experts as I have some difficulty in understanding the concept in this particular instance, which presumably, as a first and critical step, involves the authentication of the SOPs in the possession of the Returning Officer of District 4. I am aware and have the experience, that GECOM requires every Presiding Officer (PO) to produce several original SOPs – for display on the outside of the polling station and for dispatch, in separate, sealed envelopes, to the Deputy Returning Officer, Returning Officer, Chief Elections Officer and Chair and Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission.
Counting agents for political parties present at the count and production of SOPs are permitted to affix their signatures to indicate that they have witnessed, and certify, the count; they also receive a carbon (not original) copy of the SOP. Political parties and observers should only have digital and carbon copies of SOPs and they cannot, lawfully, remove the original SOP placed at the polling station. I understand, also, that GECOM had, during the design and production process, embedded security features into the SOPs which, presumably, are not known to political parties and observers. Under these circumstances, it is unclear to me, how a ‘verification’ exercise involving observers and political parties; including political parties which had few, if any, counting agents, can authenticate, certify or verify the SOPs in the possession of the Returning Officer; only GECOM can do so and that is the rationale for original SOPs to be delivered separately to the several officers at GECOM.
It would be of tremendous benefit if the very observers, political parties and experts, would let the rest of us know, for the sake of transparency, accountability and fairness, the extent of their participation and involvement in similar verification processes in the other 9 districts as well as the co-operation of the relevant Returning Officers. It is clear to all that there are considerable discrepancies between the figures announced by GECOM and the PPP/C which is indicative of a conspiracy to commit massive electoral fraud.
What is not clear is how the proposed and demanded verification exercise (in District 4 only) would address that issue except to intimidate GECOM into accepting ‘fake’ SOPs into their count or to frustrate, and ultimately abandon, the declaration of the results of the election. The escalating incidences of riots, violence and terrorism are, in my view, an integral part of the strategy to hold the nation hostage and the impending ruling by the High Court will assist us in understanding where we go from here.