Report by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Trip to Guyana

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See below statement from former US President Jimmy Carter on his visit to Guyana 

 

carterThe purpose of this visit to Guyana was to become acquainted with the leaders of the country and to monitor the election of president and members of the parliament. The Carter Center has been deeply involved in Guyana since observing the election of 1992, which was politically transforming.

Guyana was a British colony for 150 years and achieved independence in 1966. About 43 percent of the population is Indo-Guyanese, descendants of indentured workers brought in from India. About 30 percent are Afro-Guyanese, descended from former African slaves, nine percent are indigenous people, and the other citizens are of mixed parentage. There has been a general political division between the two major ethnic groups since early independence, when British and American governments supported Forbes Burnham, an Afro-Guyanese, instead of Cheddi Jagan, an Indo-Guyanese, who was accused of being a communist. Burnham’s successor was Desmond Hoyte.

In 1991, Cheddi Jagan visited me to request that The Carter Center monitor the election of 1992, and I visited the capital, Georgetown, and had extensive discussions with President Desmond Hoyte. He eventually agreed to this proposal, fully confident that his party, the People’s National Congress (PNC), would prevail. On Election Day, it became obvious that Jagan’s party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), was winning, and riots erupted in Georgetown with buildings being burned and several people killed. The central election headquarters was attacked by a mob, but I remained there with four Secret Service agents, eventually calling on the White House to intercede. The president then prevailed on President Hoyte to provide police protection, and order was finally restored. The PPP has remained in power since that time, but recent elections have indicated its steadily decreasing margins of victory.

Unfortunately, there is a “winner take all” custom in Guyana, and the efforts of The Carter Center to change this system to a greater sharing of power have been fruitless. On my last visit to Guyana in 2004, I announced in frustration that we were through with these efforts to help. Since both major parties and the Guyanese election commission (GECOM) invited us to observe this election, we agreed to return.

Although I had contracted severe cold symptoms after a recent trip to the Middle East, I decided to proceed to Guyana on May 8. In Georgetown, I was joined by two co-leaders, Dame Billie Miller of Barbados and Dame Audrey Glover of Great Britain. Our observer group of about 55 was headed by Jason Calder and David Carroll. On our first day, we met leaders of Guyanese for Peace, and the next day, we met with President Donald Ramotar, Chairman Steve Surujbally and other members of GECOM, ambassadors of key countries, UN agencies, and the European Union. Then we had a discussion with religious leaders of different faiths before visiting Brigadier General Mark Phillips, Chief of Staff of the military forces. Our next stop was the Police Force Headquarters for a discussion with Commissioner Seelal Persaud.

During this evening, our medical doctor (who accompanied us from Johns Hopkins) decided that I should go to the local hospital, and I reluctantly agreed to return to Atlanta after consulting with local doctors and my personal physician at Emory. Before leaving the next morning, we met with presidential candidate David Granger, who leads the opposing coalition, A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), followed by another meeting with President Ramotar and former president Barrat Jagdeo. Both major candidates promised to accept the results of the election if they are judged by GECOM and international observers to be free and fair.

David Carroll and Jason Calder kept me informed about progress of the election. The voting process seemed to be orderly and peaceful, and both candidates claimed to be ahead in results from party poll observers. I called GECOM Chairman Surujbally, and he said he would give preliminary (perhaps conclusive) results Wednesday night or early the next morning at the latest. I then talked to both candidates, who said that they issued claims of being ahead only after the other party declared victory, but both promised me not to claim victory until after the GECOM announcement.

I issued a statement calling for all polling results to be published and for parties to accept them. When preliminary results were released, Granger prevailed with 206,817 votes to 201,457, but PPP so far has refused to accept their defeat, demanding a recount of all votes. If finally implemented, this will be the first change in Guyanese party leadership since 1992.

 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Howcome they came up with ‘nothing’ and the final numbers varied by about 1000 from the preliminary – oh maybe it was some other internal computation error? I dunno – speculating cause nobody is making it transparent!

  2. I suppose where you live now the crime is down to nil? Sigh. Guyanese living abroad always make it sound like the pasture is way greener on their side of the world…right!

  3. Congratulations Mr President on your well desired win of the elections the creator is on your side please rebuild a Guyana that I would want to retire in the crime there should come down to nil so Guyanese living abroad would want to return to their homeland.

    Sam

  4. GECOM did recheck the 22 ballot boxes, and addressed the 33 questionable SOPs. They found nothing. PPP kept coming up with new problems whilst GECOM kept looking into them. At the end, GECOM had to stop because they found nothing. The results weren’t going to change.

    The whole fiasco made Ramotar look bad. It made him look like a poor leader. He needed to make his case, give GECOM the chance to look into them, then move the hell on. Instead he had Bharat run the show and messed up his legacy.

    Back in 2011 I had some faith in that man even though I didn’t vote for him. He proceeded to show himself to be a spineless human being who allowed Bharat to control him, whilst the lawlessness which began under Jagan continued unabated.

  5. “Both major candidates promised to accept the results of the election if they are judged by GECOM and international observers to be free and fair.” With this being the premise for acceptance, then Ramotar was correct to not settle and accept. Guyanese should not be played for fools. First and foremost both the UK and America kept claiming of free and fair elections – meanwhile tabulation was still underway on May 12th, and it would have been too early to make such a statement. Secondly and most importantly – official statements were issued by both Britain and America insisting that there were NO fake SOPs – quite contradictory to declations made by GECOM the very same day! So were international observers unaware of this secret; did GECOM hold back intentionally? Or are Observers just mere rubberstamps?! Former Preseident Carter’s message to GECOM to publicize the results immediately also indicate that GECOM apparently cannot make their own decisions? It bothers me that this is the world we live in – so much for Guyana being an independent state.

  6. The PPP/C should accept and move on, but… They know why . All the high life they were living is now in the hands of the collision party. The new government should audit all of them. I hope the new government will live up to their words and don’t do the same as the former government. Also general register need to revamp, because if you can’t give a bribe you can’t get
    document . Please one people one nation one destiny also public sector salary should be raise . So no one can’t full their pocket. You need honest government. The PPP/C never want honest people to work for them. Man like Desmond Mohamed should have been the finance minister but no because he don’t take nonsense that is why he only get director position PPP/C they don’t believe in honest people. They blame MR BURHMAN for fulling his pocket but they are worst. Their salary can’t buy what they have so, where they got all those fantastic things. Investigations need to be done for all the minister especially R PERSAUD AND I ALLY that’s just a few them they have, millions of US dollars. Please don’t go back to the older days the pass is the pass. I would love for the new government to do their best of their ability and a no nonsense APNU/AFC. Afro Guyanese and infdo Guyanese live long and be strong and have faith in the new government.

  7. President Carter with all his wisdom and experience allowed himself to be fooled by many corrupt and wicked people who hate the PPP.
    The PPP and the Government have multiples proof/evidence to show that the 2015 Elections was RIGGED.
    Why the reluctance to do a partial recount especially in Region four?
    GECOM has failed and dose’nt know how to correct their many mistakes!
    I say “WOE” be unto all those who bear false witness against Guyanese.

  8. Let the people of this country decide. We want to know the truth. If this election was rigged then the a new one should be called. If not then everyone who will have to accept and move on. I don’t see the big deal with a requested recount. Is there something to hide behind GECOM closed doors? Or do they want to see people get violent for a recount?

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