OPINION: Collapse of AFC’s voting strength responsible for Coalition’s defeat

Leaders of the APNU/AFC at a previous political rally.

The following is an opinion piece by Dr Tara Singh

A major spinoff of the 2020 elections is the catapulting of the PNC R’s cabal to the political theatre as great dramatists, pretenders, goal-post shifters and the diversionists. They still act as if they are “surprised” that they lost the elections!

Did their internal polls and consultants feed them with the wrong information? After viewing the Gecom-issued and signed SOPs on March 2, 2020 they knew that they had lost the elections. It was only then that they should have expressed surprise and move next to take their consultants and advisers to task.

This is not to suggest that there are no smart people in the PNCR that could have analyzed their prospects of victory from an alternative approach. Rather, they have been so immersed in holding onto power that they have become consumed in it, and in the process have lost rationality, fairness, compassion, and morality.

On March 3, the crescendo of elation on election day precipitously collapsed when they learnt that the PPP/C had amassed an unassailable lead of 52,000 votes with only Region 4 remaining to be counted.

This meant therefore that the APNU-AFC (referred to as PNCR) had to win Region 4 by a margin in excess of 52,000 votes.

Not having any other option, the PNCR was forced to do a somersault of the votes tabulation process in Region 4 in order to reverse the PPPC’s victory. The fraud perpetrated by Gecom’s Clairmont Mingo was not only clumsy in content but it was also daring in modus operandi, having it committed in the full view of the world.

The Mingo fraud at Gecom’s Command Center on March 4 has been subsequently confirmed in the recount process at the ACCC that started on May 6, 2020. Gecom’s Mingo announced figures for PNC in a sample of 87 ballot boxes were inflated in the combined sum of 4,495 votes, at an average of 52 votes per ballot box. For the PPPC, their votes were reduced by 758 in 32 ballot boxes, at an average of 24 votes per ballot box. The PNCR was therefore given an additional 5,253 votes by Mingo.

The three attempts to install Mr David Granger as President backfired with the threat of sanctions. To save face from those setbacks, Mr Granger, with the concurrence of Mr Bharrat Jagdeo, hurriedly requested Caricom to oversee a recount process; a move that incurred the displeasure of his team. Their mortal fear was that a recount would expose Gecom’s Mingo fraud and their complicity in it. Well, this did happen, so they have begun to look everywhere to invent and contrive issues that would neutralize or divert attention from the Mingo fraud.

The PNCR continual stream of allegations of election irregularities is contrary to the position taken by their leader, Mr David Granger who told the world on March 3, 2020 that the elections were “free fair and orderly.” The credible and transparent elections on March 2, 2020 were reinforced by Gecom Chair, Ms Claudette Singh, all the accredited observer groups (OAS, Commonwealth, EU, Caricom, Carter Center, PSC) as well as the diplomatic community.

Any objective analysis of the PNCR’s election campaign and track record would have shown that they were in no position to win the 2020 elections. It’s not only that their performance over the last 5 years were at best mediocre; it was also tainted with mismanagement, corruption, executive lawlessness, racism, lack of accountability, and poor social policy.

Despite their horrid performance their base has remained strong. But what stung them the most was the poor showing at the polls by their AFC partner. The AFC’s precipitous decline brought to the PNCR less than 5,000 votes in 2020. This collapse of the AFC voting strength was responsible more than anything else for their (PNCR) defeat.

Just think about it, in 2006 the AFC got 28,366 votes; it continued to expand its support base and in 2011, it received 35,333 votes. In 2015 AFC delivered the 10% Indian votes to the coalition in addition to votes from other groups (an estimated combined total of 40,000).

For the 2020 elections, most of those 2015 AFC votes had gone back to the PPPC, while some went to ANUG, JLP and other parties. This meant that the AFC failed to deliver over 30,000 votes to the coalition. There was no way, therefore, in which PNCR could have made up this huge deficit from other constituencies, other than by rigging. In 2015, it was the AFC votes of 40,000 that allowed the PNCR coalition to win by just 4,545 votes.

The PNCR is trying extremely hard to find faults in the electoral process that are unrelated to their loss, but which they hope could be the basis of an election petition. They are not short on creating new narratives with almost reckless abandon. We will look at the efficacy of two of these narratives: bloated voters’ list and foreign interference.

First, the compilation and updating of the voters’ list is the responsibility of Gecom. All the political parties went into the elections accepting the list. Second, in 2015 there were 583,444 persons on the voters’ list. In 2020 that figure rose to 661,028 (+77,584 or 13.3%).

Now, the population age-group 13-17 numbering 84,132 during the period 2015-2020 would have attained voting age in 2020 and therefore became registered as voters. Thus, the increase of 77,584 voters between 2015 and 2020 was due primarily to the new (youth) registrants. The difference (84,132-77,584) is due mainly to the removal of names from the voters’ list on account to deaths of registrants.

Some credence was also given to foreign interference into Guyana’s 2020 elections. They say that in politics our memory tends to be short. In 2015, for example, the PPPC had asked and were promised recounts in Region 8 and elsewhere, but those were subsequently retracted on the suggestion of the US Envoy who advised Gecom to declare the winner on the basis of the total tabulated results, and let the aggrieved  party seek relief via election petition(s).

Mr Bryan Hunt, the US Envoy had an extensive presence in the 2015 elections and he also “exerted influence on the Elections Commission,” (Freddie Kissoon: KN 9/25/2019).

The Envoy’s behavior was not deemed as foreign interference then, but the current crop of PNCR operatives are ready to attack the US Ambassador and other diplomats for defending democracy by insisting on credible and transparent elections; principles that are shared by all lovers of democracy, including all the international and local observer missions. And this has also been Mr Granger’s position. And the majority of Guyanese support the position taken by the envoys. Without them, democracy will be smothered to death by the PNCR cabal.

That the 2020 voters’ list is bloated is a myth and so too is foreign interference in the 2020 elections. To the existing PNCR’s culture of lies and deception is now added myths. Truth and morality have become casualties in the process. To replace lies/deception with truth, and myths with reality, Mr Granger should accept defeat, and allow the democratic process to flow into the future, when Guyanese will be free from suffocation.