Elecciones en Guyana: disturbios y quema de vehículos obligan a postergar difusión de resultados

Announcement of preliminary results postponed

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was Monday night forced to postpone the release of preliminary results of the 2015 General and Regional Elections tonight owing to disturbances in and around the city.

Earlier tonight GECOM Commissioner, Steve Surujbally, and Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, promised to release numbers from polling stations from several regions on the coast at 11:00pm.

At the appointed time however, Surujbally told reporters that the Guyana Police Force has been experiencing difficulties transporting statements of polls and ballot boxes from polling stations.

“There’s an environment that is not conducive to the safe movement of the ballot boxes at this point in time,” a seemingly disappointed Surujbally told a press conference a few minutes ago.

“We are ourselves engaging in maters that should ease the situation but at this point in time the ballot boxes and the statements of polls are not moving the way we thought that they would move,” he continued.

The release of preliminary results has thus been postponed until tomorrow (Tuesday) at a time yet to be determined.

When Demerara Waves passed the St. Sidwells Primary School at around 11:30 there were scores of people stationed outside of the premises. Asked what they were doing there, one woman said “we watching the polls.” She added that they did not intend to leave until the ballot boxes were removed.

A sizeable sum of persons had also congregated in the vicinity of a polling station just off the intersection of Durban and Joseph Pollydore Streets.

Following the press conference a seemingly downbeat Lowenfield noted that while GECOM wanted to keep its promise and release the preliminary results as scheduled, the situation “is beyond the control of GECOM.” He shared that there are reports of many large crowds around, and this has undoubtedly interrupted the smooth flow of the statements of polls.

Caribbean News Desk

Misguided mob spoils peaceful polling day- attacks pastor home, torch eight vehicles on rumours

Riot police, backed by soldiers were last night trying to defuse an explosive situation in ‘C’ Field, Sophia, after an angry mob torched several vehicles and attacked a pastor’s home in the belief that PPP/C supporters had set up an illegal polling station in the area.

The building was actually a PPPC Command Centre, which had no ballot boxes, as several residents had believed. The Lot 589 ‘C’ Field property which came under attack is owned by Pastor Narine Khublall.

In all, eight vehicles, including a minibus and three SUVs, one of which belonged to PPP candidate Joseph Hamilton, were destroyed by the time police and army ranks brought the situation under control.

Kaieteur News was told that the mob made off with three motorcycles. People also torched a small stable in which the Khublall family kept some of their horses. Attempts were also made to set fire to another house next to the Khublalls.

A tearful Pastor Khublall was too distraught to immediately estimate his loss. He told Kaieteur News that he has lived in Sophia for the past 18 years. He is also a Community Policing member.

The riot all started because of a rumour, reportedly spread by a passing minibus driver, who claimed that the PPP/C has set up an illegal polling station at the location. As the rumour spread, several angry residents began converging in front of Mr. Khublall’s property, where a PPP banner had been on prominent display for the past two months. The rumour was fuelled by the sight of heightened activity at the house, as the PPP mobilized its supporters to vote.

PPP Candidate Joseph Hamilton, who was assigned to coordinate activities there, blamed an individual whom he knows to be a former policeman for starting the rumour.

He said that hundreds of people, from far and near, converged near the PPP Command Centre. He alleged that among them were several prominent members of the Opposition Coalition, including Raphael Trotman.

Hamilton said that he invited some of them into the command centre in an effort to dispel suggestions that illegal polling day activities were being conducted there.

After satisfying themselves that nothing untoward was happening, the Opposition members spoke to the protesters in an effort to calm them down. But as soon as the officials had left, the residents stepped up their attack.

“A Mr. Edmonds, whom I don’t know, also came, seeking to be a speaker on the people’s behalf. We said (to him) ‘don’t worry with the office, go into this man’s total house’. They did that and they left, and the people continued (to protest). This was since five-thirty.”

It was then that things escalated, with the mob torching a stable. According to Hamilton, some police ranks arrived and tried to pacify the protestors. He alleged that a police official reassured him that ranks from the Riot Unit would arrive soon, but they never did until much later.

By then, the mob had torched a vehicle. In the presence of police ranks in riot gear, they proceeded to set fire to seven other vehicles that were parked outside the command centre.

When Kaieteur News arrived, sporadic gunfire was heard coming from the command centre as the occupants, who were under siege, tried desperately to repel the menacing advances of the angry mob, which also began stoning Khublall’s property. The shots were apparently fired in the air.

“This was a well orchestrated operation; this was nothing spontaneous, “ Hamilton said. He alleged that the Khublall family had been receiving threats for the past several weeks.

Hamilton was critical of the police response to the attack. “We were under siege since five o’clock, with about six policemen for protection.”

Around 22.45 hrs, several more riot police ranks arrived, back up by a number of army ranks while a GDF helicopter hovered overhead.
By then, millions of dollars had been lost in damages.

Kaieteur News

PPP calls on law enforcement to safeguard integrity of election process – condemns torching of homes, vehicles in Sophia

THE People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has forthrightly condemned the willful torching of two buildings and two vehicles in Sophia by a mob who openly voiced their allegiance to the Opposition. One of the buildings and the vehicles belong to a supporter of the PPP.

Information reaching the party’s Freedom House headquarters indicate that earlier in the day the PPP supporter was wrongfully accused of electoral infractions by members of the mob.

It was also reported that following the accusations earlier in the day, a senior member of the Opposition alliance visited the area and eventually noted that nothing illegal had transpired.

“It therefore now becomes worrying that a mob, with its loyalty to the coalition, would resort to such violence putting many lives at risk. Such incidents must be condemned by all,” Party said in a statement issued around 11 pm (23:00 hrs).

According to the PPP, Guyana’s electoral history is replete with these incidents which must be laid squarely at the doorstep of the Opposition. In this regard, the PPP calls on the Leader of the APNU-AFC alliance, Rt. Brig. David Granger, and its Prime Ministerial Candidate, Moses Nagamootoo, to condemn these acts of violence and to have their supporters cease their actions. “These violent acts are against the tenets of democracy and create unwanted instability in our country,” the PPP charged.

“As the polls closed earlier, the PPP would like to note how pleased it is with the turnout of its supporters. Our Party takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to the many thousands who came out and stood for long periods to exercise their democratic right to cast a vote. Their patience is testimony to their belief in a progressive Guyana and to sustain the strides made under the PPP government,” the incumbent party stated.

“While our Party is please in this regard, it must note its disappointment at the unprofessional discharge of duties by some GECOM staff in some areas up to this point. This is totally unacceptable and those officers who chose not to operate in a professional manner must be condemned and must answer for their transgression,” the PPP declared.

The party said it recognises that while some operated in an unacceptable manner, many other GECOM staff performed admirably and must be commended for their professional discharge of duties.

Now that the counting phase is underway, the PPP is extremely concern over the many reports received of aggressive behavior by Opposition elements who have surrounded some polling stations. We believe that this is a calculated attempt by the Opposition to intimidate our election agents in an effort to compromise the counting process. Our Party calls on GECOM and the law enforcement agencies to act accordingly to protect the integrity of these elections and to ensure the safety of those involved.

The PPP calls on its supporters to remain calm but remain vigilant to safeguard the process.

Additionally, our Party will continue to follow up with GECOM concerns it raised earlier. Among those are reported cases of duplicate voting, a deliberate slow pace of the voting process by some election day staff, voting by imposters and the intimidation of voters in some areas.

As our country awaits the results of these elections, we urge and reiterate that all involved must act in a responsible manner so that in the end, democracy in Guyana will prevail. We demand that the international observers must remain vigilant as the process is far from completion.

Guyana Chronicle