…do not thwart democracy
An eminent group of West Indian scholars have called in caretaker President David Granger to concede defeat and make way for the duly elected candidate to be sworn in.
“We, the undersigned, hereby call on President Granger and the APNU/AFC to immediately concede the election held on March 2, 2020, to the PPP/C, and to facilitate the swearing-in of Dr Irfaan Ali as President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana,” the Group said in a press release on Tuesday.
The National Recount, which was conducted under the scrutiny of a special Caribbean Community (Caricom) team, shows the PPP/C in a landslide victory with some 15,416 more votes than its main political rival, the APNU/AFC coalition.
Foreign Powers have called on GECOM to declare the results of the elections on the basis of the certified figures emanating from the National Recount.
Following is the full statement:
We, the undersigned, hereby call on President Granger and the APNU/AFC to immediately concede the election held on March 2, 2020, to the PPP/C, and to facilitate the swearing-in of Dr Irfaan Ali as President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
What we have been witnessing over the past 121 days since Guyanese went to the polls is both a confirmation of the way in which democratic elections are supposed to be run, followed by an attempt to negate democracy, thereby thwarting the will of the Guyanese people. The election itself on March 2, was “perhaps one of the most outstanding, credible and well-run elections” ever witnessed by most of the election observers. Scrutineers from all political parties, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), along with external election observers from several countries, witnessed a process whereby all voters: produced photo identification or their National Identification Card; had their identity verified by a Presiding Officer against a registry of legitimate voters; dipped their index finger in indelible ink to avoid voting duplication; folded their ballot so that the vote remained anonymous; and placed their vote securely into an official ballot box.
The election process was a cumbersome one, but commendably thorough, and every election observer, including those from the two main political parties, was impressed by the calibre and commitment of the Polling Stations’ staff, and by the relatively smooth way in which the entire election was handled.
The tabulation process at each Polling Station was meticulous, credible, and fair, according to the incumbent coalition officials, the opposition party officials, representatives of GECOM, and local and international observers. The Statements of Poll (SoPs) were placed at the entrance of each Polling Station, demonstrating the transparency of the count. There were ten electoral districts and 2339 ballot boxes. The results of the tabulation of votes revealed that 460,352 valid votes were cast in the General Election, with the PPP/C opposition party securing 233,336 votes and the incumbent APNU/AFC coalition receiving 217,920 votes. This result, certified by GECOM, whose mandate it is to determine the final credible count, indicated that the opposition party had clearly won the General Election. Yet, the outcome, as the case in Guyanese elections, was a sound victory for the PPP/C. Based on the certified results of the polls, the PPP/C, with 50.69 per cent of the vote would have 33 seats in Parliament and the APNU/AFC, with 47.34 per cent, would have 31 seats.
Yet, it was only after it became obvious from the SoPs that PPP/C had won the election, that the incumbent party was unhappy with the result and tried to fraudulently change the outcome.
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, who observed the election in Guyana, stated that he had “never seen a more transparent attempt to alter the result of any election”. Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados and the Head of the Commonwealth observer team put on record immediately his observation that representatives of the APNU/AFC engaged in fraud and widespread rigging of the election, only after they realised that their party was losing to the Opposition. Mia Mottley (Prime Minister of Barbados), and Ralph Gonsalves (Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines) have also stated that the elections were free and fair, and the recount credible. The Carter Center, one of the most respected organisations when it comes to the observance of national elections around the globe, questioned the change in the tabulation of votes in Region Four, and also expressed concerns about fraud by the APNU/AFC coalition. Similarly, the Organisation of American States Observation Mission noted a change in the vote count in Region Four and in a diplomatic statement concluded that “the process did not reach its proper conclusion as stipulated in the electoral code.”
We note that only after the APNU/AFC realised they were losing the election did their representatives begin to complain about “irregularities” and “fraudulent votes” being cast. Attempts were made to disenfranchise a large number of voters through allegations of voting violations that have not been substantiated. According to the Government-backed Lowenfield report, there are claims of breaches in polling procedures and alleged voter impersonation. Yet, no concrete evidence has emerged to support these allegations. The alleged violations are of the sort that should have been caught by scrutineers of all the political parties present during the voting process and the tabulation of the votes.
Based on all the facts of the election, including the eventual recount, it is evident that the democratic process in Guyana is being undermined by the incumbent APNU/AFC. We, therefore, urge the coalition Government of the APNU/AFC to do the right and honourable thing and concede defeat in this election. We urge President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo to promptly recognise the PPP/C as the winner in this hard-fought and tightly contested election, and congratulate Dr Irfaan Ali as the new President, and Brigadier Gen (Ret’d) Mark A Phillips as the new Prime Minister in a PPP/C Government. It is in the interest of all Guyanese that the APNU/AFC facilitates a smooth transition without further delay in order to uphold and preserve democratic governance in this wonderful country.
We take the judgement and words of several Caribbean leaders seriously. There is no reason to doubt the consensus opinion and veracity of the Caricom observer team, the OAS, the Commonwealth Observation Mission, The Carter Center, the Embassies and Ambassadors of Canada, United Kingdom, European Union, and the United States. Several independent bodies in Guyana, including the Guyana Human Rights Association, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, the Guyana Bar Association, and even partners within the APNU/AFC coalition itself have determined that the 2020 election was free and fair, and that the recount was credible. As Caribbean scholars and scholars with an interest in the region, dedicated to the production of authentic and socially responsible knowledge in our region and beyond, we feel compelled to call on the APNU/AFC to immediately demit office and have the rightful winner, Dr Ifraan Ali, sworn in as President, so that the PPP/C can get on with governing Guyana at this critical time in its history.
Scholars on Guyana Elections
Dr W Andy Knight (University of Alberta); Dr Faeis Jafar, (University of the West Indies); Dr E J Persaud (State University of New York); Dr Horace Bartilow (University of Kentucky); Mr Winston Dookeran (Author/former Deputy PM of Trinidad & Tobago); Dr Prem Podar (Roskilde University, Denmark); Dr Percy Hintzen (Florida International University); Dr Tarron Khemraj (University of South Florida); Dr Clarence Lusane (Howard University)