WASHINGTON – The Organization of American States (OAS) Monday called on the Guyana government to “to begin the process of transition, which will allow the legitimately elected government to take its place” as the country awaits the official announcement of the winner of the disputed March 2 regional and general election.
In a statement, the OAS, which was among international and regional organisations that sent observers to monitor the polls, said elections are held to determine the will of the people and once the people’s wishes are clearly stated they must be upheld, not only in instances where they favour the incumbent.
“In this case, the results published in the report of the Chief Elections Officer himself make it clear that the opposition PPP/C (People’s Progressive Party/Civic) has won the favour of the majority of Guyana’s eligible voters. Their will must be respected,” the OAS said.
In his report over the last weekend, he Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfiel, said that the results did not meet the standard of fair and credible elections.
He said approximately 55 per cent of all votes cast for general elections stand to be impacted due to “either anomalies and/or voter impersonation or unreconciled ballot boxes.
“Specifically, 7.2 per cent of the votes cast were impacted by anomalies, 39.2 per cent were impacted by voter impersonation, 3.4 per cent impacted by both anomalies/irregularities and voter impersonation, and 5.7 per cent impacted by unreconciled ballot boxes,” said Lowenfield, whose report, like that of the three-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Observer team that observed the recount, will be discussed by GECOM before an official announcement of the election results are given.
In its statement, the OAS said that the decision by GECOM to proceed with the national recount and the eventual initiation of the process on May 6, were welcome developments in the ongoing electoral process in Guyana.
“Following the very irregular occurrences in the tabulation process for District Four, which undermined the credibility of the results for that electoral District – the largest in Guyana – a national recount of all ballots was deemed the best approach to ensure a result that was acceptable to all stakeholders.”
The OAS said that I has noted that the decision to proceed with the recount had the full support of all stakeholders in the elections and that the Official Order of the Recount, No. 60/2020, gazetted on May 4, 2020 notably states “ the President and the Leader of the Opposition and all contesting parties agreed to a CARICOM proposal for a total recount of all electoral districts as a means of assuaging the contesting parties and determining a final credible count…”
“This support was reiterated in public statements by the President of Guyana and other key stakeholders as the recount proceeded.”
The OAS said that the Order of the Recount required that “ascertained and verified” matrices of the results for each of the ten electoral districts be submitted to the Chief Elections Officer, who would then tabulate these results and submit them to GECOM, along with a summary of the observation reports prepared for each District.
“OAS notes that the report submitted by the Chief Elections Officer on June 13, records multiple “allegations” of irregularities by a contesting party in each District, which are then used as a basis for determining that the electoral process in each of the ten Districts was not credible.”
But it said “there is little evidence in the CEO’s report of efforts to investigate or otherwise address any of the alleged irregularities presented. His contention that the entire election be set aside on this basis alone is astonishing”.
The OAS said that on June 4 it issued a statement in which its observers present on each day of the national recount have reported that the process was conducted in a “professional, transparent and impartial fashion, which allowed GECOM, political parties and other stakeholders to accurately determine the results for each polling station.
“OAS reiterates that there is no reason not to support the results of the recount process. OAS further takes note and wholly supports the findings of the CARICOM team of scrutineers that the results of the recount were transparent and credible, and nothing prevents the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission from now declaring the election, based on these results,” it added.
The PPP/C said that following the end of the national recount on June 9, it had won the polls by more than 15,000 votes while the ruling coalition, a Partnership for National Unity (APNU) claimed there were many irregularities and anomalies.