Guyana’s main opposition party this week said that it has found so many irregularities in its audit of the Nov. 28, 2011, general elections that it now doubts that the East Indian-dominated governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won the largest bloc of votes and the presidency to run the Caribbean trade bloc nation for a fifth consecutive five-year term.
Briefing reporters at the end of a nearly three-month-long audit of polling station statements and other material, A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), the party of retired army general David Granger, said ballot box stuffing and other forms of cheating were evident in the capital and environs, as well as in the key Region 3 district on the country’s west coast, where the Hindu-led PPP dominated all other parties despite huge APNU rallies in the days leading up to the elections. The APNU draws the majority of its support from Afro Guyanese.
APNU also accused the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of colluding with the PPP to set up polling stations at private residences of Indian PPP supporters, saying that at those stations, the PPP won up to 75 percent of the vote, compared to its national average of 49 percent. The final count showed that the PPP won just over 48 percent of the overall vote.
“We believe that fundamental breaches of the stated policies and procedures of GECOM occurred, along with misconduct and illegal actions by GECOM representatives in the managing of the elections held on November 28, 2011, do not provide a reliable basis to determine who won the presidency,” the party said.
It did not say whether it will go to court to challenge the results by way of elections petition, but did say its audit now explains the sudden shift from trends that showed APNU with a clear lead in the count two days after the elections.
Petitions are the only way to overturn the results of an election, but the sloth of the local judiciary could mean that the case could drag on for up to five years, rendering any verdict meaningless.
The party said that it had found dozens of forged signatures on polling statements and remains aghast that GECOM has yet to provide it with the final list of polling stations, including the private residences used on polling day. It accused the Indo-led body of including several private residences at the last moment.
The results gave APNU 26 seats and the Alliance For Change (AFC) seven for control of the 65-seat Parliament for the first time in history.
The composition of Parliament could have been much different but for eagle-eyed opposition Commissioner Vincent Alexander, who demanded that the official announcement be delayed because he had noticed that the commission was readying to give the PPP 51 percent of the seats despite the fact that it had won less than 49 percent of the vote.
In other words, APNU is saying that senior commission functionaries who are known to support the PPP were preparing to award the PPP both presidency and majority in the assembly but for the vigilance of Alexander, a university professor.