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Guyana May Be Oil Rich But Its Archaic Elections System Is Proving Its Awfully Poor

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NEWS AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. March 4, 2020: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast that Guyana could see an 86 percent growth in its economy this year, with GDP almost doubling to $8.1 billion and per capita income growing to over $10,000. Under a 40-year deal signed with ExxonMobil Corp and its partners in 2016, Guyana is expected to receive an estimated $168 bn in revenue, more than 120 times the country’s annual budget. The country’s newfound oil riches have attracted attention from all corners of the world, with many ready to do business.

But with election results from the South American CARICOM nation’s Monday elections still undeclared, the spotlight is now on the archaic system set up to serve its 600,000 plus voters.

On Tuesday, with results barely trickling in and no official winner declared by the Guyana Elections Commission, (GECOM), which blamed a number of factors, including inclement weather in one of the regions, for a further delay in announcing the complete preliminary results of Monday’s regional and general elections.

Head of the OAS Observer Mission, former Jamaica Prime Minister, Orette Bruce Golding, says what is needed now is a secured high-tech system to be developed to receive and transmit results from locations across Guyana.

 “We are of the view that technology can be much more helpful,” he said according to Demerara Waves, while suggesting that the system would entail the collection and transmission of images of the Statements of Poll and collated results from regional locations to a central server located in Georgetown.

Golding said such an approach would allow Guyana to implement a more modern tabulation system for the efficient delivery of preliminary results.

“We, therefore, recommend that the elections commission should consider implementing a system to issue preliminary results of national elections in order to make this information available on election day or on the morning the day after,” he was quoted as saying, while adding that the official tabulated election results should be available online through GECOM’s website to ensure faster and simultaneous transmission to a wider audience including political parties, media and citizens.

“This would promote the transparency of the election results,” Golding said.

As of yesterday, the delay in announcing official results and a winner to run the country for the next five years led to most businesses in the heart of Georgetown shuttered amid concern of possible unrest as has been the history of elections in this CARICOM nation.

Private Sector Commission (PSC) head Gerry Gouveia and Retired Major-General Norman McLean told Demerara Waves they feared the impact of continued delay in declaring the results.

“The longer it takes for this decision to be made, the results to be known is the more likely, as has happened in the past, that there will have problems,” McLean was quoted as saying.

The election was observed by the European Union (EU) Observation Mission as well as the Organization of American States, the Carter Center and the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM).

The new 65-member National Assembly will be elected for a five-year term, and the leader of the largest coalition or party becomes the country’s president to rule over eight billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas have been discovered off the country’s shores.

RESULTS SO FAR

The GECOM yesterday announced it has processed information from just 139 of the 2,339 polling places across the country.

Nine political parties competed in the general elections and 11 in the regional elections.

They included the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), led by President David Granger is being challenged by the main opposition party, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP), as well as several smaller parties including: A New and United Guyana (ANUG), the United Republican Party (URP), Change Guyana, the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), the People’s Republic Party (PRP) and The Citizenship Initiative (TCI), The New Movement (TNM).

The Federal United Party (FED UP) and Organization of Victory of the People, (OVP) only contested the regional polls.

However, initial data showed a close battle between the ruling APNU-AFC coalition and the PPP/Civic, which has the mostly Indo-Guyanese support with the votes again split along racial lines.

At a midday press conference Tuesday, Public Relations Officer of GECOM, Yolanda Ward, gave preliminary results coming from just 30,621 votes. Out of that number the incumbent APNU+AFC accounted for 19,139 and the opposition PPP/C 11, 032.

The initial results according to Guyana media as of last night, are as follows across the country’s 10 regions with about 5% of the results released:

For Region One, the PPP/Civic had 7,996 while the APNU/AFC garnered 3,839 votes.

For Region Two, the PPP/C had 18,788 votes while the APNU/AFC secured 7,343.

For Region Three, the PPP/C got 1,539 while the APNU/AFC received 500.

For Region Four, the APNU/AFC had 12,681 while the PPP/C received just 972.

For Region Six, the APNU/AFC received 1,897 while the PPP/C got 1,662.

For Region Eight it was a close race with the APNU/AFC receiving 2,086 votes while the PPP/C got 2,041 to date.

For Region Nine, the APNU/AFC got 1,059 while the PPP/C received 1,144.

For Region Ten, the APNU/AFC got 196 while the PPP/C received 70 so far.

There were no results as of last night from Regions 5 and 7.

GECOM’s Chief elections officer, (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, told a news conference that the process of bringing closure to the receipt of all the statements of poll (SOP) “from all across Guyana, particularly in the far flung areas” was continuing and hinted that the official results could now be released by today.

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