Guyana’s multiracial opposition coalition has won a national election, breaking the ruling Indo-Guyanese party’s 23 year-old grip on power, the election board said on Thursday, signalling a new era in the ethnically divided South American country. The Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change coalition, led by former army brigadier and publisher David Granger, won 206,817 votes versus 201,457 for president Donald Ramotar’s People’s Progressive party (PPP), the authorities said after all votes were counted. Diplomats from the UK and US said the elections were free and fair, and the Guyana elections commission said its first tally was unlikely to change on review. But Ramotar said the elections were rigged and demanded a recount, without giving any basis for his accusations.
Articles about voting issues in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
An opposition coalition challenging the governing party and the racial politics that have long dominated in Guyana said Tuesday it appeared to have won national elections, though official results had not been released. The leader of the Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change told reporters the coalition’s own tabulation of publicly available results from nearly all polling stations gave it a substantial lead over the governing People’s Progressive Party. Opposition candidates for Parliament had more than 180,000 votes, compared to nearly 130,000 for the ruling party, David Granger, a retired army general who leads the coalition, said at a news conference in the capital. “There is no way that the PPP can close this gap that we have opened up,” Granger said.
The two main political parties here yesterday appealed for calm, following a night of unrest in the Sophia community in South Georgetown as Guyana awaits the official results of Monday’s general election. Both the ruling People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) and the opposition coalition—A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change AFC —issued calls to their supporters to refrain from any act of violence. Their calls follow a statement by the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr Steve Surujbally, that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) had been experiencing difficulties transporting statements of polls (SOP) and ballot boxes from some of the 2,999 polling stations.
Guyana has voted in general elections described by police as steady and peaceful. Incumbent President Donald Ramotar of the People’s Progressive Party – Civic (PPP/C) is running against David Granger, representing a five-party opposition coalition. Mr Ramotar’s party has been in power for more than two decades. If the PPP/C wins, it will be its sixth consecutive term in office and the second for Donald Ramotar.
For decades, the two main political parties in this English-speaking South American outpost have been divided along racial lines with one drawing its well-spring of support from African descendants and the other from the country’s East Indian population. But changing demographics and the emergence of a multiracial third party have turned Monday’s election for president and parliament into one of the most closely watched since this former British colony transitioned from socialism to democracy 23 years go.
The Carter Center says Guyana’s electoral preparations appear to be on track, even as it expressed deep concern about divisive campaign rhetoric ahead of the May 11 polls. Since April, The Carter Center has deployed a team of five experts and six medium-term observers throughout the Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to observe preparations for the elections. They have conducted observation in all 10 of Guyana’s electoral districts and held meetings with a wide range of stakeholders, including political parties, the election commission, civil society organisations, and the judiciary.
Thousands of soldiers, police, prison guards and fire rescue personnel will cast ballots this weekend ahead of Guyana’s May 11 general elections. Some 7,540 people will be eligible for Saturday’s early voting at 84 polling stations across the country, elections chief Keith Lowenfield said in a statement. Political parties have been campaigning hard to win votes among the security forces and emergency services, though they represent a small percentage of Guyana’s electorate.
Dozens of trips to monitor elections abroad have left former President Jimmy Carter hopeful about the future of many countries adopting democracy but concerned about the election process in the U.S. Carter spoke with The Associated Press on Thursday in Atlanta ahead of a May trip to Guyana that will mark the Carter Center’s 100th mission and his own 39th observation trip. The program is a large part of what Carter once called his “second life” since forming the human rights organization in 1982 after leaving the White House. The milestone represents “an opportunity to contribute to democracy and freedom,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the work that the Carter Center has done in monitoring elections has encouraged people to have more honest elections.”
The main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on Sunday for the first time openly conceded that verification of the results would not change the outcome of the general and regional elections held almost two months ago. “We do not expect that the verification will reverse the major outcomes of the 2011 elections but we still need to get the elections right,” APNU Chairman, David Granger said on Christopher Ram’s weekly interview programme, Plain Talk. He, however, said his opposition coalition would still be pushing for the Statements of Poll for the November 28 polls to be reconciled as part of a process to clean up the operations of the Guyana Elections Commission. “Regardless of what the examination or the verification comes up with, we should move beyond running some sloppy elections. The results are too slow, the logistical arrangements are too backward and people need to know within a matter of hours what the outcome is,” Granger said.
General elections in St Lucia and Guyana on November 28 have raised serious questions about the financing of campaigns and the unfair use of state resources by governing political parties to gain an advantage over their opponents.
In St Lucia, it is alleged that a significant portion of the United Workers Party (UWP) campaign funds came from Taiwan. The UWP was the ruling party at the time of the elections and the then leader of the Opposition and leader of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Kenny Anthony, had engaged in a public row with the Taiwanese Ambassador over his blatant interference in the electoral politics of the island. In Guyana, it is claimed that the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) outspent its three rivals by a sizeable margin in the elections campaign.