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…
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.
Police fired tear gas and rubber pellets on Tuesday to disperse about 500 protesters demanding an election recount in Guyana, a day after the home of a ruling party politician was reportedly firebombed. Leaders of the opposition Partnership For National Unity said eight people were slightly injured in Tuesday’s clash, including a 79-year-old woman, a retired army chief and the head of the party’s youth movement.
David Granger, a retired army officer who won a seat in Parliament, said the protest was peaceful and said police overreacted. “There’s no reason to use this level of force.”
Guyana’s new president was sworn in yesterday, pledging that his minority government will work with an opposition-controlled Parliament in the South American country. Donald Ramotar, a 61-year-old economist, said he would consult with leaders of other political groups and name a Cabinet in 48 hours.
“The new arrangement in Parliament will test the maturity of our leaders,” he said. “Pettiness must be put aside.”
Ramotar’s People’s Progressive Party, which is dominated by people of East Indian descent, won 32 seats in Monday’s election, four less than it had in the last Parliament. The Opposition Partnership For National Unity has 26 seats, a gain of four, and the Alliance For Change has seven, a gain of two.
Electoral officials in Guyana say Donald Ramotar of the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) is to be the next president. But the party, mainly backed by Guyana’s ethnic-Indians, lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 19 years. This could make it difficult for Mr Ramotar if opposition parties opt to work together, analysts say. A delay in announcing Monday’s poll results had heightened tensions.
The Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) said the People’s Progressive Party had won 32 seats, the opposition coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) 26 seats, and the Alliance for Change seven seats.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has announced that persons who are listed in the 2011 Official List of Electors (OLE) but are not in possession of their Identification Cards will be allowed to vote. GECOM, in a release stated that information published that persons who do not possess their ID cards will not be allowed to vote, is misleading.
The only persons, who will not be allowed to vote at the elections, are persons whose names are not on the 2011 OLE. National Identification Cards and Valid Passports will be used to verify the identity of electors who are listed in the 2011 Official List of Electors (OLE). However, if an elector is not in possession of his/her ID card, the Oath of Identity will be administered in accordance with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 1:03.
The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Guyana government on Thursday signed an Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) for the general and regional elections in Guyana to be held at the end of 2011.
In a ceremony held at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the OAS, Ambassador Bayney R. Karran, signed the document, while at the same time expressing their wishes for the elections in the Caribbean nation to take place in an environment of normalcy and transparency.
The Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) says it has launched a programme to monitor Guyana’s general and regional elections due later this year.
A release from the EAB’s Council of Management on Friday stated that they would be testing the voters’ list and providing hotline and open house services to individuals wishing to check their names on the list or report any irregularities.
Additionally, the NGO will be conducting public awareness, training and placing observers at all polling stations to observe the polling process, and monitoring the count and award of seats to the National Assembly.
The Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Monday voted 3-2 in favour of reopening the Claims and Objections period to allow several thousand persons with source documents to be registered in order to vote later this year.
“The proposed date for the reopening of the exercise is July 25th 2011 for a duration of 13 days with the Claims aspect running for 10 days,” GECOM Chairman Dr. Surujbally announced at news briefing Monday afternoon.
Guyana: Government Ministers decry attempts at administrative disenfranchisement of voters in Guyana | NCNGuyana
Following Friday evening’s discussion on the National Communications Network (NCN) on which Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon appeared with Dr Prem Misir, discussions continued on disenfranchisement of a significant number of Guyanese who were not in possession of their source documents prior to the closure of the Claims and Objections period.
On the panel, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony and Minister in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran reiterated that those who have not been able to register due to no fault of their own and who would have made stringent efforts to get registered should be able to do so.
Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally says there will be no turning back in the move to general election after the final voters list is certified by Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodoo in early September.
Addressing political party representatives at the opening of a workshop on Wednesday the chairman said there are some who may “conspire to thwart” their efforts.
“Our action plan shows that he, (Boodoo) if everything is correct, we will leave no stone unturned to have everything correct, early September, I think it’s the 4th that he will be ready to provide that list. After that, that list has a shelf life of three months, do the math yourself,” Dr. Surujbally stated. The general and regional elections are constitutionally due by December 28.
Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally has given a commitment that GECOM will maintain its open-door policy to meet with key Stakeholders in the run up to the General and Regional Elections – 2011. This pledge was made during a meeting between GECOM and a team of representatives from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) last Tuesday in the Commission’s Boardroom, immediately before the Commission’s 328th Statutory Meeting.
… A GECOM release said the PSC had requested the meeting to discuss several areas of concern which had been raised during prior meetings between the PSC and some of the political parties in Parliament; and which the PSC shared.
GUYANA Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities will soon host a needs assessment workshop for persons within its target group. The President, Mr. Leon Walcott said the purpose is to assist participants to take advantage of their right to be participate in the general elections process.
The announcement follows the last week hand over to the organisaton, by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its governance enhancement project, US$18,000 to provide disabled and their families with tools to improve their ability take part in the voting.
USAID Guyana Mission Director, Ms. Carol Horning said, then, that the grant is aimed at increasing participation in elections, by different audiences, through the provision of information and encouragement of a peaceful process.
Guyana: Cabinet expresses concern over the large number of Guyana identification cards yet to be picked up | NCNGuyana.com
Government remains concern at the large number of uncollected national identification cards from Guyana Elections Commissions. This was revealed by cabinet secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon at his post cabinet media briefing today.
Dr. Luncheon highlighted the issue of uncollected identification cards continues to plague the Guyana Elections Commission and remains an issue for the government.
He expressed the view that in some cases persons may have difficulty in collecting their ID cards while on the other hand some persons are unwilling to do so.
PNCR Leader Robert Corbin says his party has “some time” to prepare for an election, since neither national nor local government elections can be held unless the voters’ register is updated.
Asked during a press conference on Friday about the perceived lethargy within the party concerning the holding of local government elections, Corbin said his party was not being “lethargic” but rather “pragmatic”. He said that information from the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) indicated that the voters’ register list had to be updated.