There are lingering and unanswered questions surrounding the March 2, elections

There are lingering and unanswered questions surrounding the March 2, elections

Dear Editor,

I applaud the wisdom, integrity and judicial acumen of the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh and unreservedly support her every decision and action thus far. We all would agree that there are lingering and unanswered questions surrounding the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections in Guyana which have attracted international attention and condemnation and serious, and potentially violent, domestic concern.

A major concern has been the deliberate and protracted misinformation peddled by some observer groups, political parties, media and civil society alleging that the post-poll process in District 4, unlike the other 9 districts, exhibited “serious and persistent electoral malpractice”, was unlawful and lacking in transparency and credibility, and that President Granger and Chairperson Singh were largely responsible for this deterioration. This has led to public insult, character assassination, allegations of improper conduct and political misadventure, and invitations to, and threats of, international sanction.

The practiced purveyors of misinformation and disinformation could not be concerned that it is factually incorrect that the Returning Officer (RO) of District 4 made two unlawful declarations, that he failed to comply with the March 11 rules made by the Chief Justice, or that the process for ascertaining the declared results were not transparent, inclusive and lawful. While there seems to be sufficient evidence, not limited to District 4, to suggest that the electoral system has been compromised, the real issue for them appears to be the significance of the RO’s declared results in determining the Presidency and the realization that it must be discredited, overthrown and substituted if the PPP/C were to win these elections.

The alternative narrative promoted by the PPP/C and allied political parties is that the PPP/C increased its District 4 electoral support in these elections by over 14% – 70,203 (2015) to 80,344 (2020) – while APNU+AFC increased its support by 0.4% – 113,856 (2015) to 114,345 (2020) when the electoral role grew by over 16% in what is universally considered its main stronghold. That is not remotely believable or credible even for foreign observers who care little for professionalism and fairness.

Moreover, the RO’s allegedly suspect and unlawful ascertaining of the results for District 4 do not provide any electoral benefit to APNU+AFC which would maintain the 4/3 regional seat advantage it always had, while the PPP/C’s supposedly accurate tabulation for District 4 would gift them an additional top-up seat and the Presidency, if the declared results for the other 9 districts are accepted without question. It is also not the case that the processes employed by the ROs of the other 9 districts were demonstrably more inclusive and transparent, or that the declared results were more credible than the vilified District 4 results.

All that is known is that they were spared the same degree of scrutiny and, except for the RO of District 10, who attached a computer-generated spreadsheet to his election return, detailing the number, division and names of each polling station in the district, the number of electors, total votes cast, voter turnout and the votes cast for each political party, which can be checked and verified by anyone, no other RO has formally provided any information to support their declaration.

The magnitude of the discrepancy between the competing declarations for District 4, by the RO and PPP/C, of over 22,000 votes (which is more than the vote in 7 of the 10 districts) is credibly suggestive of major electoral malpractice, including the introduction of irregular Statements of Poll and incorrect tabulations, which have compromised these elections. Almost every stakeholder, foreign and domestic, have expressed their concerns about the integrity of these elections and have urged that GECOM undertake a full and transparent recount of every vote cast in order to restore public and international confidence and acceptance of our electoral process.

Justice Singh is committed to doing exactly that with fidelity to the constitution and her office.

Oscar Dolphin

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