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Guyana President sworn in after six months, here's why

By Judah Ben-Hur | August 3rd 2020

Irfaan Ali has been sworn as the President of Guyana six months after the March election. [Reuters]

The Co-operative Republic of Guyana has sworn in Irfaan Ali as the new Executive President of the small but newly declared oil-producing country in the Northern part of South America.

But this is happening a half year after polls in March.

Ali a former Minister of Housing and Water and member of the national assembly was sworn in as president after months of recounting of votes following the fraudulent March 2 elections whose doctored results left him lagging behind the former President David A. Granger of APNU–AFC alliance.

How it happened
At the end of the election day, Statements of polls (SOPs) were presented and signed by all political parties as local and international observers together with the media and local individuals got copies.

By evening the next day, nine of ten districts had been tabulated and the results showed PPP (Progressive People’s Party), Ali’s party leading with about 51,000 votes. However, everything started going south once it became clear that the Granger government was going to lose.

Clairmont Mingo, a returning officer, Wikipedia reports,  said he felt unwell and was immediately taken to the hospital forcing the tabulation processes to be put on hold for several hours as a replacement was sought. The healthy replacement also felt unwell so the tabulation was put on hold.

In the mist of mischief, a data entry clerk was found attempting to load SOPs using a foreign laptop and flash drive.
On March 4, things started getting more questionable when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karen Cummings arrived at the tabulation centre and threatened to revoke the accreditation of the international observers, Wikipedia adds.

The following morning, accompanied by police, Mr. Cummings came to clear the building asserting that there was a bomb threat. Many representatives of the international observers and political parties did not leave the building.

That evening, with a wall of police surrounding him, Cummings stood at the top of a staircase and read out alleged results for the last electoral district. The results did not match those recorded by either the international observers or the political parties both who voiced their opposition to the move.

Despite the open resistance to the results, the electoral body released the results to the media showing APNU-AFC coalition to have won by 59, 077 votes.

On the evening of March 5, Granger addressed his supporters and thanked them for giving him another term. However, the PPP obtained a court injunction preventing the Region 4 returning officer from declaring the results until further verification had taken place.

The results would a few days later come under scrutiny when the signature of Volda Lawrence, a Health Minister in the APNU-AFC government was found in the results of Region 4 which only needed to have the stamp and signature of the returning officer.

A joint statement from the European Union, America, Britain and Canadian governments questioned the credibility of Region 4’s results and later declaring that the elections cannot be credible.
On 11 March, the Supreme Court negated the results of Region 4, ruled that a partial recount in the election must be undertaken, ordering that Region 4 continue verifying votes.
Kenyan lawyer Gitobu Imanyara was a Commonwealth Election Observer and the only African in the mission to Guyana as its citizens voted.
In a statement today, Imanyara expressed his joy on the upholding of democracy after a six-month wait for the election results.
“A word of deep respect for the Guyanese judiciary led by their Chief Justice for their patience, courage and perseverance in ensuring that justice was done without fear or favour. Your colleagues in the other Commonwealth jurisdictions have much to learn from you,” read the statement by Imanyara.

Imanyara said the Guyana experience showed how important it was for countries to have impartial international observers capable of spotting malpractice in the election process.

“To those who cling to the notion that there is no value or justification for international election observation here is an irrefutable rebuttal of that notion. But for the international observers, the world would never have known of the full extent of the fraudulent attempts of the Chief Election Officer to rig the results,” read Imanyara’s statement.

On August 2, 2020, several days after the Court of Appeal ruled that the results of the recount be used as the official election results, Irfaan Ali was ultimately sworn in as President of Guyana.

Ali becomes the ninth Executive President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

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