Thought not official, the opposition “PPP/C has won Guyana’s March 2 general elections as per the recount of ballots that ended on June 7. The PPP has won some 15,500 votes more than the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition. However, there is no officially declared winner which is not expected until another week as per the elections commission timeline.Nevertheless, with the recount being transparent and broadcast live, the victory is a foregone conclusion. This victory cannot be undone even by any willing biased staff of the elections commission as happened right after the elections on March 4 and 13.
The President of Guyana, David Granger, stated repeatedly that he would accept the declaration of the elections commission, Gecom. The Chair of Gecom who holds the deciding vote has not come out publicly and said she would use the recount as the basis for a declaration of the results. She is coy.
Various efforts are being made by Granger’s party to nullify the March 2 vote. It has changed its position from credible vote on March 2, victory on March 4, to fraud now. APNU is calling for a void and redo of the elections. That is unacceptable. Democracy does not work that way. Voiding the election won’t be tenable in the international community of democratic nations. The elections were free and fair and credible. Caricom leaders are already derogating the incumbent for refusing to concede defeat.
A declaration would come soon. PPP is expected to be officially declared the winner. Opinion polls I conducted even the last one done a day before the elections showed the PPP winning 34 seats and the incumbent 30 with one seat going to the combined small parties. Some in the PPP gave itself up to 38 seats berating the polls I did. The undeclared results shows the PPP 33 seats, APNU 30, and 1 for small parties with one seat not clear; seats are allocated on a PR basis. PPP may end up with 34 seats.
The election declaration process has several other steps aside from the recount before its completion and this will take another week. The process requires a tabulation (certification) of the statements of polls (SOPs) or matrixes for each of the ten regions of Guyana. Voters cast two ballots – one for the party for the national parliament (and the Presidency) and one for the regional council or parliament. The SOPs are added for each party nationally (cumulatively to determine seats in the national parliament) and for each regional council to determine the winner of seats from the region to the national parliament. The figures for the Presidency (national parliament) will then be given to the Chief Election Officer (CEO) who will prepare and present a report with a recommendation to the elections commission (Gecom). The Caricom Scrutineer Team (CST) that was agreed upon by the President and the Opposition Leader, will also prepare a report for Gecom.
Given the limited respect for court or process in Guyana, the process can be halted. A reminder that there was a successful passage of a no confidence motion on December 21, 1918. An election, by law, should have been held by March 18, 1919. It was not held until a year after that deadline although the highest court, the CCJ, ruled that the election be held by September 2019. We are now in June, and there is no official declaration. The incumbent claims it was cheated even though all observers and ten of eleven political parties stated the election was free and fair. Even the incumbent also pronounced that the election was free and fair until a month ago when the recount started to reveal that its claimed victory was a mirage, a fraud perpetrated by one of the election agents. The incumbent has hinted it will not accept the outcome. We don’t know what is planned. One has to keep fingers crossed and hope that the incumbent would respect the will of the voters and the recount and any judicial intervention.
The court has no jurisdiction over Gecom on the declaration of the results except to offer supervisory powers to follow the law. Gecom will study the reports and make a decision on the way forward. The fraudulent count of March 13 has been put in abeyance; it reportedly shows APNU 33 seats and PPP 32 seats. It is unlikely that Gecom will consider it and ignore the recount. It would be untenable for Gecom to reject both reports and return to the report prepared for it with the fraudulent Mingo and Lowenfield counts. Gecom makes the final decision on what report to use or to make. It will then advise the CEO to prepare a declaration of the outcome and will vote on it. It is expected to be partisan with a tied vote 3-3. The Chair would have to break the tie and she is expected to side with the figures of the recount. That would make it an official PPP victory that was widely expected even by APNU supporters as I found in my polls in Guyana.
Following the declaration, the Chair would ask the head of the judiciary, the Acting Chancellor, to swear in the PPP Presidential candidate, Dr. Irfaan Ali who will then form a government. It is hoped it would be a broad based government of all opposition forces that allied against fraud.