Barbados Today: Pollster Peter Wickham today urged Prime Minister, Mia Mottley to use her position as the current chair of CARICOM to speak out on what he described as a lack of transparency in the Guyana election.
Wickham told Barbados TODAY of his fear that violence is almost an inevitable unless CARICOM takes steps to defuse the situation.
He noted that the majority of observers from the Commonwealth have taken umbrage with the Guyana Electoral Commission’s (GECOM) decision to veer from the agreed verification process when it came to the counting of votes in Region Four – the country’s largest voting bloc. He therefore argued that CARICOM cannot afford to stay silent on this matter.
Wickham said: “I think that CARICOM has to say something, and I think that Prime Minister Mottley has been unusually quiet in this regard and I think she needs to make a statement in regard to whether or not the polls process has to be continued.”
He contended that with Guyana poised to cash in on its major oil finds, it was unlikely that either party would be willing to relent in their quest for power. He suggested the political instability could put a wet blanket on those oil prospects, as international agencies would be unwilling to negotiate with a government whose legitimacy is in question.
He added: “The eruption of violence is a distinct possibility, as a matter of fact it is more than a possibility, it is a distinct probability.
“You already have a country with a strong history of electoral violence because it has race mixed into the equation.
‘I think it is inevitable that this is going to happen. I don’t see why the leader [president David Granger] does not see that he is courting trouble by going this route.
“Guyana has a sordid history of election mal-practice back in the 60s and 70s and they were finally in a situation where they were back on the right track, so to go back to this is a retrograde step.”
According to unofficial results, the declaration of which is now subject to a court injunction, the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) had defeated the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) by about 7,000 votes in the popular vote.
This was after the PPPC had amassed a substantial lead prior to the counting of Region Four. But Wickham contends that his calculations showed an 11 per cent swing towards the PPPC, in all of the regions, except in Region Four.
He told Barbados TODAY: “It is possible that the PPPC’s lead could have been overhauled in Region Four, but it was unlikely.
“I had measured a swing at the level of 11 per cent in all of the other regions. So in my view it could only have ended one way.
“The possibility is always there since Region Four is so large, but the swing is compelling and it would suggest that it was not likely to have happened.
“There is no fundamental reason why they can’t continue the verification process. It is going to be a messy situation because the PPPC is convinced that they have won, and the incumbent is convinced that they are not letting go.
“There clearly is a swing against the government, which clearly indicates that the majority of Guyanese want someone else and while that may not be good news for some people, it is what it is. So I think that the situation as it stands is very worrisome.”
Only recently Mottley received one of Guyana’s highest national awards.