The Local Government Elections (LGE) are over, but four days later, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to release the official results. Because the votes must be counted at the place of polling immediately after the close of voting, we know the results. I knew the results generally that same night. Why GECOM is still to release the results creates suspicion that they are trying to manipulate these results.
Clearly, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has won the LGE, no matter how the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), political commentators and the ABC diplomats try to disavow this truth. The people spoke and confirmed their support and affirmation for the PPP. The PPP won more than 64 per cent of the votes cast and the seats that were available in the elections. Winning 748 compare to APNU/AFC’s 406 seats is a big victory. This is a clear victory for the PPP, but also a repudiation of APNU/AFC.
How can one explain that APNU/AFC won in 2015, but garner under 40 per cent of the votes in the 2016 LGE, less than 10 months later? The two possibilities are first that the 2015 elections were, indeed, manipulated to favor APNU/AFC as claimed by the PPP and by vast numbers of the Guyanese people and second, the people have given APNU/AFC an F for governance in the last 10 months. The people have delivered a total repudiation, affirming that the 2015 elections results were machinated and rejecting APNU/AFC.
But conducting LGE for the first time since 1994 is an achievement. This is a good new beginning for local government in Guyana and I am hoping that the scheduled LGE will not be held hostage to political machinations that prevented the regular holding of LGE before. If further changes are necessary, these must not provide reasons to defer LGE again.
The 2016 LGE further exposes GECOM. The Commission is incapable of managing the results transparently and generate confidence among the electorate. In the 2015 elections, a majority of the Guyanese people believed that GECOM conspired with the diplomats of the ABC countries and with APNU/AFC to manipulate the electoral system to ensure that a close election will result in a victory for APNU/AFC. For example, GECOM refused to do legitimate recounts, even in a region where the difference in the official result was just a single vote and, worse, in instances where fake statements of polls emerged at GECOM itself.
The behaviour of GECOM in this LGE, unfortunately, re-opens those wounds and fuel those same suspicions. For the majority of us, GECOM conducted the LGE in a manner that facilitated APNU/AFC with an advantage. Now the delayed official results stir suspicion that GECOM is manipulating the results. Even if GECOM does not manipulate the results, the suspicion that the LGE were not totally free and fair is already ingrained in people’s minds.
APNU/AFC, for their part, used the State resources to their maximum advantage. For example, they distributed buses and bicycles across the country to win favours. There was ample evidence of intimidation across the country before and on E-Day. People were even forced to become sponsors on local lists. For election day itself, they refused to give a holiday to allow people to vote. This was a deliberate decision because they knew that many people from rural communities were working in distant places that would deter them from voting and, therefore, affect the PPP mostly. For most of the day, GuySuCo workers were denied the right to vote and they had to fight for that right.
The ABC diplomats continue to play a negative role in our elections. They are busy justifying the low turnout, by saying that the turnout was higher than those seen in their countries. But these same diplomats interpreted the almost 70 per cent turnout in the 2015 general elections as people rejecting the PPP. The truth is the just over 45 per cent turnout in the LGE was a rejection of APNU/AFC and a reflection that many people did not believe that the LGE were going to be free and fair.
But overall, even with complicit machinations between APNU/AFC, the diplomats of the ABC countries and GECOM, the result clearly is a PPP victory. After only 10 months in office, the people have lost confidence in APNU/AFC to manage the affairs of Guyana. They have pronounced in a clear way that they are unhappy with the direction the country is going and have delivered a stern repudiation of APNU/AFC. Now they will face a Government which will provide no support to them in a shameful game of revenge.