Poll results in Jamaica known, accepted within hours; while Guyana’s took 5 months

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Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness greets a woman before casting his vote in the general elections, in Kingston on Thursday. (Gladstone Taylor/Reuters)

While the results for the General and Regional Elections in Guyana took five months before it was officially declared by the electoral authorities here, it was not the same for fellow CARICOM Member state, Jamaica, and infact several others, who conducted their elections this year.

Jamaicans went to the polls on September 3 (Thursday) and by midnight of the same day, the nation had already known what the results of the elections were – the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), headed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, returned to power after securing 49 out of the 63 seats in the Parliament.

In fact, on the same night of the elections, during an address to the nation, Prime Minister Holness said that his main challenger, Dr Peter Phillips, Leader of the People’s National Party (PNP) had called him to concede defeat, a gesture he described as sportsmanlike and dignified.

Similarly, the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago conducted their elections on August 10 and within a matter of days, the official results were declared and accepted by all parties.

The incumbent People’s National Movement (PNM), led by Dr Keith Rowley was declared winner after securing 22 seats, while the main Opposition United National Congress (UNC), led by Kamla Persad Bissesssar, won 19.

After recounts in a few constituencies confirmed that Dr Rowley had won the polls, Opposition Candidate Persad-Bissessar immediately conceded defeat and offered best wishes to Dr Rowley’s PNM.

Additionally, over in neighbouring Suriname, it was the same situation where the democratic will of the people was respected and upheld. Results for the country’s General Elections which were on May 25 were declared in a matter of days and the loser, Desi Bouterse, president at the time, accepted defeat and offered his best wishes to the new Government.

However, in Guyana case, democracy was threatened to its core; General and Regional Elections were held on March 2, 2020, and the results were officially declared on August 2 – five months after the electorate voted.

Several blatant attempts to alter the results in favour of the APNU/AFC Coalition failed and triggered a national recount after the intervention by CARICOM leaders.

The national recount confirmed that David Granger’s APNU/AFC Coalition was defeated by more than 15,000 votes, but Granger refused to concede and allow the legitimate winner; the PPP/C, to take its place as the next government.

FILE: APNU/AFC Presidential Candidate David Granger and their Prime Minister Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan

This behaviour by the then Coalition regime was condemned by CARICOM – in both its former Chair, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and current Chair, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves – as well as the ABCE (United States, United Kingdom, Canada and EU) diplomatic community here, among others, all of whom insisted that the recount results must form the basis of a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Presenting his preliminary findings on the Electoral Observation Mission to the OAS Permanent Council on May 13, Golding had said, “I have never seen a more transparent effort to alter the results of an election…it takes an extraordinarily courageous mind to present fictitious numbers when such a sturdy paper trail exists.”

Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield

Several electoral officials, including Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and District Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo and former Coalition Government Minister, Volda Lawrence are currently before the Courts for their alleged involvement in electoral fraud.

The PPP/C Government has affirmed its commitment to launch a forensic review into the events that unfolded after the March 2 polls and holding persons accountable for attempting to subvert democracy in Guyana.

President Ali, during his maiden address as Head of State, had said that his Government has an obligation to the nation and to themselves to ensure that no other generation of Guyanese is subjected to such unlawful behaviour which transpired for five months, when the country was embroiled in a major political and electoral impasse.