Tempers flared between representatives for two of political parties yesterday as post-election tension in Guyana reached the tabulation process for District Four votes.
The verbal disagreement which descended into physical assault led to the tabulation process being halted.
The altercation was between a representative for A New and United Change (ANUG) and a representative from the ruling A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).
The ANUG candidate Jonathan Yeardwood was seen shoving the female APNU+AFC rep Carol Joseph after they got into a heated debate following his repeated shouting at officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) conducting the exercise.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) yesterday relocated the region Four tabulation exercise to its headquarters.
The process was originally being held at the GECOM Command Centre on Hadfield Street, Georgetown.
“In light of the recent decision to have the remaining Statements of Poll scanned and projected on screen for the Region Four tabulation exercise, the Guyana Elections Commission has decided to move the exercise from the Office of the Returning Officer to the GECOM head office,” GECOM stated.
“This move is necessary since the required scanner is readily available at the Commission’s headquarters and would contribute significantly in ensuring the process is done smoothly,” it stated.
The Organisation of American States Observer Mission yesterday announced that it will be withdrawing from Guyana as there continues to be ongoing controversy over the tabulation of results for District Four.
In a release issued yesterday, the OAS stated that the process being conducted by the Returning Officer for Region 4 to ascertain the results of the national and regional elections held on March 2 “does not meet the required standard of fairness and transparency.”
The OAS stated that on March 11 Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire required the Returning Officer or Deputy Returning Officer to determine the best method of tabulating the Statements of Poll and included the expectation “that the Returning Officer would act reasonably in ensuring a process that allows persons to observe what is being tabulated and how”.
“This has not occurred. Instead, and without any plausible explanation, the Returning Officer continued to ascertain the votes cast for each party list without affording the duly authorized candidates and counting agents an opportunity to see the Statements of Poll, in order to compare them with the copies in their possession. Such a process could have been easily facilitated using the same technology which allows the tabulation to be displayed,” the OAS stated.
“The Returning Officer’s defiance of the Chief Justice’s orders and expectations, and his refusal to allow the Statements of Poll to be exhibited, gives credence to the allegations that the numbers being tabulated do not correspond with the numbers appearing on the Statements of Poll prepared following the March 2 elections,” it stated.
The OAS said it “noted that images of the Statements of Poll published by the PPP/Civic, on its website, which it claims were given to its polling agents after the ballots were counted at each polling station on the night of the elections, produce a result that is vastly different from that being declared by the Returning Officer and would have a decisive effect on the outcome of the national election”.
“To date, neither the Chief Elections Officer nor APNU has challenged the authenticity of the Statements of Poll published by the PPP/Civic by producing the copies in their possession. The implications are deeply troubling and make it all the more necessary for the Returning Officer to display the Statements of Poll on which he is relying,” the OAS stated.
The OAS said it was satisfied with the way the Guyana election was run and with the process used for calculating the results of the other nine districts.
“However, the process employed by the Returning Officer for Region 4 is not transparent and, based on the numbers that have emanated since the process was first disrupted, is unlikely to produce a result that is credible and is able to command public confidence,” the OAS stated.
“The legitimacy of any government that is installed in these circumstances will be open to question. This would be a terrible blow to the country’s democracy. The people of Guyana do not deserve this,” it stated.
“Given the circumstances cited above, the OAS Electoral Observation Mission regrets that it has no option but to withdraw from Guyana. The Chief of Mission will prepare his report for submission to the Secretary-General,” the OAs stated.
The OAS mission was headed by former prime minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday urged all parties involved to act in the best interest of Guyana.
“We urge all parties and government officers, including GECOM officials, to act in the best interest of Guyana’s development and ensure that when it is concluded the 2020 electoral process ensures that every vote is counted credibly and transparently,” AMCHAM stated.
AMCHAM T&T said businesses and societies flourish, investments flow and countries grow when the rule of law is strong.