“I have never seen a more transparent effort to alter the results of an election” – OAS EOM
Head of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Guyana, Bruce Golding says he has never seen such a “transparent effort to alter the results of an election”.
Presentación del Jefe de la Misión de Observación Electoral de #OASinGuyana, Bruce Golding, ante el Consejo Permanente de la #OEA, del Informe Preliminar sobre las #GuyanaElections del 2 de marzo de 2020 (1/2) pic.twitter.com/5iwq8vMTpw
— OEA (@OEA_oficial) May 13, 2020
Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, made the remark this morning during a live audio broadcast where he gave an overview of the Electoral Observation Mission’s findings on the 2020 General and Regional Elections in Guyana.
Presentación del Jefe de la Misión de Observación Electoral de #OASinGuyana, Bruce Golding, ante el Consejo Permanente de la #OEA, del Informe Preliminar sobre las #GuyanaElections del 2 de marzo de 2020 (2/2) pic.twitter.com/gry4hyaG4S
— OEA (@OEA_oficial) May 13, 2020
“I have never seen a more transparent effort to alter the results of an election…It takes an extraordinarily courageous mind to present fictitious numbers when such a sturdy paper trail exists,” Golding stated.
He explained that upon the completion of voting on elections day, Statements of Poll (SOPs) are produced and presented to each party representatives. Those SOPs indicate how many votes are allotted to each political party for each polling station.
Golding explained, however, that the Returning Officer for Region Four, Clairmont Mingo significantly altered the votes recorded on the SOPs when he was declaring the results for that district – the largest electoral district in Guyana.
For example, in ballot box 4062, Golding pointed out that the SOP indicated 182 votes for the APNU/AFC coalition and 43 votes for the PPP/C.
“The Returning Officer reported those results as 292 votes for APNU/AFC and 32 for PPP/C,” Golding stated, noting that when that ballot box was recounted, the numbers were 182 for APNU/AFC and 43 for PPP/C, the exact figures that appeared on the SOPs.
Golding went on the give several examples of where such instances occurred, noting that for another ballot box, the SOPs indicated 15 votes for APNU/AFC and 276 votes for the PPP/C.
“The Returning Officer declared the results as 85 votes for APNU/AFC and 246 votes for the PPP/C,” Golding stated.
He noted too that when the ballot box was recounted, the votes allotted to each party was “exactly as appeared on the original SOPs.”
According to the Head of the EOM, elections were free, fair and transparent throughout the country for all electoral districts except District Four.
“The final tabulation of results in region four were marred by several issues, which regrettably, came to taint the overall process and have led to the protracted delay in the declaration of results,” Golding expressed.
He noted that principal among these issues “were the actions of the Returning Officer in abandoning the use of the SOPs in the presence of the authorised party representatives and to rely instead of a spreadsheet of unknown origin which provided results that are significantly different than on the SOPs…”
US Senators remind Granger special authorised flights allowed
Five top-tanking Senators from both the Republican and Democratic in the United States of America have called on caretaker President David Granger to allow International Observers from the Carter Center and the International Republican Institute (IRI) to return to Guyana to observe the ongoing national recount.
The caretaker Government has come under fire recently for not granting the necessary approval for the Observers to return, citing COVID-19 concerns. But it has granted approval for some six to eight flights since the airport was closed to international traffic, to oil giant, ExxonMobil, to fly in its workers.
In a letter to caretaker President Granger, which was also signed by the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen James E. Risch, the Senators called directly on Granger to allow the Carter Center and other international observers to monitor the recount exercise of the March 2 Regional and General Elections to confirm the integrity of the process.
“While we recognize that Guyana has closed its international airport as part of its efforts to address COVID-19, we understand that your government is providing special authorization in important cases”.
“With full respect for Guyana’s public health measures, we are hopeful that you will consider the presence of additional international observers an essential step to strengthening the credibility of the recount,” the Senators added.
The Washington-based Carter Center, had confirmed that it had deployed an Observer to Miami who was prepared to travel to Georgetown, on May 4, to observe the national recount, but the official was prevented from joining the flight due to the Guyana government officials not granting the necessary clearance for travel.
In a brief statement, the Carter Center had said it continues to reach out to Guyana Government officials to understand what is required to allow its team to return to Guyana.
The Center had said that it remains committed to providing an independent assessment of Guyana’s electoral process, including the ongoing recount exercise.
It should be noted that the Carter Center is among the group of international observers that have been publicly critical of the lack of credibility of the highly contentious Region Four count that is at the centre of Guyana’s current political turmoil.
The Center, in addition to other international observer missions, had subsequently denounced the declaration of unverified results, saying they lacked credibility.
APNU/AFC’s actions clearly show they do not want int’l observers here – Jagdeo
The APNU/AFC Administration’s COVID-19 Task Force has been authorising flights to land in Guyana even amid the restrictions, however, requests by international observers to fly here have been denied.
According to the General Secretary of the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, this “clearly shows they do not want the presence of International Observers to come here.”
Jagdeo was at the time interacting with members of the media outside of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre – where the recount is currently ongoing.
Several international observers – including the Carter Center – have not been granted permission to fly to Guyana to observe the recount exercise.
So far, bi-partisan members of Congress and the Senate of the United States of America have called on the David Granger -administration to allow the international observers to come to Guyana.
Jagdeo told reporters that: “I hope that President Granger heeds the call of both the Senate and the House of the USA and civil society and all the political parties to give permission for the observers to come back in.”
Jagdeo reminded that at least eight flights were given special permission to transport ExxonMobil workers from all over the world, but the APNU/AFC Government has constructed various obstacles citing COVID-19 concerns to block the observers from coming here.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo also used the opportunity to shut down the “frivolous report” being made by APNU/AFC agents that persons who are dead and have migrated voted in the March 2 polls.
CARICOM Ambassador urges political parties not to fear recount of votes
CARICOM through its Ambassador Noel Lynch on Wednesday urged the two major political parties in Guyana, both claiming victory in the March 02, 2020 elections, that they should have no fear of the ongoing recount exercise.
Lynch in his comment during a meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) said CARICOM intends to ensure that when the recount is complete, that democracy emerges the winner.
“If each of the political parties genuinely believes it has won, then they should have no fear of the current recount, and they should all support it,” he said.
The ongoing recount is currently being scrutinized by a high level three-member CARICOM delegation.
Lynch noted that in the same way that democracy matters to the people of Guyana, it matters to the Caribbean Community of which the nation of Guyana is a valued member.
The Barbadian hasten to add that it is for this reason CARICOM regards itself as the most legitimate interlocutors in the Guyana situation.
“We have no interest in which political party wins the election. CARICOM’s interest is that, at the end of the recounting process, democracy must be the winner,” he added.
Lynch explained that CARICOM countries are held together by rules and values, including the right to elect governments freely and fairly in a democratic process.
“If democracy fails in any CARICOM country, it fails in the larger Community. If it is imperilled in any part of our Community, it is imperilled everywhere in it. As an institution, CARICOM cannot allow this to happen in any member state,” he noted following the delivery of a report by the Chief of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, Bruce Golding.
The CARICOM Ambassador told his colleagues that the regional body was mindful that irregularities occurred not in the system by which the Guyanese electorate cast their votes on March 2, but in the presentation of the count afterwards.
To this end, he said the Guyanese people deserve a credible and transparent process to put into office a legitimate government that they elected.
CARICOM takes its scrutineering role in this recount extremely seriously and intends to see it through to a transparent and credible conclusion, he concluded.