This statement is issued by the Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI) local observer team for the 2020 elections in Guyana.
Free and fair elections are indispensable in a democracy. Such elections convey the people’s choice of leadership and in the absence of a credible process for determining the results, the legitimacy of any leadership installed is questionable. All reports to date and our own observations indicate that the 2020 elections were overall free and fair at the level of voting (though some incidents have occurred). This, however, has been derailed by tabulation of the results in Region 4 which has the largest population of the ten regions with the potential to determine the outcome of the national election. In this regard, we have taken note of and endorse the press statement by the Guyana Human Rights Association (see Stabroek News, March 7, 2020) on the process followed by the GECOM.
The GECOM has a duty and owes it to the people of Guyana to verify the results of the elections before announcing a winner. All this must precede the swearing-in of a president. Should a president be sworn-in prior to verification of the results, the legitimacy of that president and his/her regime will remain questionable and GECOM would have shredded its credibility and that of its officers. We also believe that no leader worthy of the presidency and of the responsibility to lead the development of our society would countenance such a cloud over his/her leadership. Even when systems fail, leadership cannot be allowed to fail.
The political parties and the local and international observers agree that an appropriate process for verification of the tabulated results was employed in all the regions except region 4. In fact, the transparent process was initially followed in region 4 then aborted. There is no reason why this should happen. Notwithstanding GECOM’s power to decide on its processes, a change in process would necessitate agreement of all involved to maintain integrity and there was no such agreement. Against this backdrop, the results declared for region 4 in the 2020 elections lack credibility.
The circumstances surrounding the declaration of the results for region 4 have created an appearance of collusion between GECOM and the incumbent, APNU-AFC, in so far as the results which were not transparently verified but declared for region 4 tip the national election in favour of the incumbent. President Granger has indicated that he has not intervened in the functions of GECOM in relation to the results of the elections (Guyana Chronicle, March 10, 2020). However, his statement has not cleared his party and its members of such interventions. Furthermore, whereas he indicated that GECOM should be allowed to “execute its mandate to deliver credible elections to the Guyanese people”, he did not indicate whether he believes that the results as declared are credible (see Guyana Chronicle, March 10, 2020). It is important to note that the credibility of elections is an assessment to be made by citizens and observers including political parties and is not evident upon GECOM being allowed to do its work. We therefore call on the APNU-AFC to indicate its position on the credibility of the process employed by GECOM in region 4 and to clear its image in the interest of its supporters and the country.
All Guyanese deserve and should demand nothing less than transparent verification of the results of the 2020 elections and all political parties, including those that might appear to have benefited from the opacity, should support only a transparent process. This responsibility goes beyond what is perhaps merely legal or perceived to be so and to delivering elections of the highest standard for all Guyanese. The longer a credible and correct procedure is delayed, the greater the opportunity will be given to possible compromising of the ballot boxes at GECOM, that are no longer within sight of local and international observers.
TIGI will address elections in Guyana and the 2020 elections in greater detail at a later date.