Coalition engaged in “fishing expedition” during recount; considerable time was wasted – CARICOM Team

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The CARICOM Observer Team has found that, for the most part, the objections raised by the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) agents during the national recount exercise, were a mere “a fishing expedition” which contributed to a considerable amount of time being wasted.

“The Team viewed much of the exercise as a fishing expedition designed to gather data for a possible elections petition and which resulted in considerable time being wasted during the recount,” the three-member team said in its report submitted to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) today.

The team explained that the numerous requests for information on serial numbers “were so bizarre” that on one observed occasion, an APNU/AFC agent was prepared to query the serial numbers on the Official List of Electors (OLE) in a Work Station where no one had voted. These challenges were often made on the grounds of death and migration.

“…the net was cast extremely wide in the hope of at least making a small catch and at times, the anticipated harvest ended in slim pickings. In only one observed recount of a ballot box was the number of queried serials confirmed as having voted in fact significant relative to the queried number,” the team posited.

During the recount exercise at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the APNU/AFC agents had arbitrarily raised a number of objections, claiming that certain persons who ‘voted’ at the March 2 polls were either dead or migrated. To date the Coalition has not been able to provide a single piece of evidence to substantiate these claims.

Immediately after the allegations were made, hundreds of these persons whom the APNU/AFC claimed were out of the jurisdiction but ‘voted’, were, in fact, present in Guyana at the time of voting.

Also, several of the persons whom the coalition claimed were dead but ‘voted’ were found to be alive and well. Their stories were widely publicised in the media.

The CARICOM Observer Team also referred to the “level of aggression” displayed by some agents in the recount Work Stations which it said “leaves much to be desired”.

“Indeed the conduct displayed by some of the observed party agents (APNU/AFC) was totally unacceptable,” the team said.

Having noted this, however, the team expressed that it is important to say that the agents was critical for many reasons, not least among which of course, is the issue of transparency.

“The agents, particularly the representatives of the APNU/AFC and PPP/ Civic, were diligent advocates and defenders of their parties. Further, they served as the important fifth set of eyes so to speak where, for a variety of reasons, GECOM staff were unable to detect errors,” the team added.