Guyana’s two largest parties are both claiming victory in that country’s controversial general elections held on Monday. The major opposition group has warned that it will not accept results from ongoing recounts, as its own polling day statements have shown that it is on course to win.
This announcement was made as counting remains inexorably slow as of daybreak Wednesday, more than two days after nearly half a million eligible voters lined up to cast their ballots for the incumbent East Indian-dominated People’s Progressive Party (PPP), seeking a fifth consecutive term, and the Afro-supported A Partnership For National Unity (APNU).
Polls in the headquarter nation of the 15-member Caribbean trade bloc were held on the same day as in St. Lucia, but jubilant opposition supporters there knew long before midnight that the opposition St. Lucia Labor Party (SLP) had deposed the United Workers Party (UWP) of Prime Minister Stephenson King after a lone five-year term in office. From all indications, the SLP of former prime minister and ex-trade bloc general counsel Kenny Anthony could end up winning up to 11 of the 17 seats in the national assembly.
Anthony is expected to be sworn in before the end of the week amidst street celebrations by jubilant supporters.
Down south in Guyana, Robert Persaud, the PPP campaign manager and agriculture minister, said that the party was at a loss about why the elections commission had not yet declared the final results. “We know we have won and they know it too. We are not sure why they are not releasing the results,” he said.
Persaud said the party believes they have won about 53 percent of the vote, which would give them the presidency and control of the 65-seat parliament.
But Rupert Roopnarine, the APNU candidate for prime minister, said, “No documents in the possession of the APNU point to a PPP victory.” He continued to say that the group was “unlikely to accept any results showing such a scenario.” Meanwhile, the Guyanese business community is worried about imminent opposition protests, as were the case in 1997 when the city was paralyzed, some stores looted while others suffered fire damage.
APNU supporters have given indications that they may hit the streets to protest alleged irregularities.
Roopnarine and presidential candidate David Granger, a retired army general, said that the group is preparing a dossier with evidence of malpractice by the PPP to hand to the elections commission, including “unofficial polling stations at the homes of PPP supporters.”
In the meantime, the umbrella Private Sector Commission rushed to meet with commissioners early Wednesday to indicate their concern about rising tensions that have forced many businesses to closed up at half-day and send workers home early in fear of street protests, which sometimes turn ugly.
“We met them and told them about how we feel, but they assured us that the results are likely to be announced soon,” Chairman Ramesh Dookhoo said.