OAS observer mission pulls out of Guyana: Flawed Region Four process cited

In a sign of the deepening crisis for Guyana and the caretaker Granger administration, the Organisation of American States (OAS) election observer mission announced it was withdrawing from the country.

The mission cited as its reasons, the tabulation process for Region Four, which it says was not transparent. In a statement on Saturday, the OAS mission warned that any government installed on the basis of these results would be open to question. A report is to be prepared and sent to the OAS Secretary-General.

In its statement, the OAS election observer mission declared that “the process being conducted by the Returning Officer for Region 4 to ascertain the results of the national and regional elections held on March 2 does not meet the required standard of fairness and transparency.”

“The implications are deeply troubling.”

— OAS election observer mission

The statement made reference to the Chief Justice’s ruling handed down on March 11 requiring the Returning Officer or Deputy Returning Officer to determine the best method of tabulating the Statements of Poll and included the expectation “that the Returning Officer would act reasonably in ensuring a process that allows persons to observe what is being tabulated and how.”

Deeply troubling

The OAS election observer mission contends that “this has not occurred. Instead, and without any plausible explanation, the Returning Officer continued to ascertain the votes cast for each party list without affording the duly authorised candidates and counting agents an opportunity to see the Statements of Poll, in order to compare them with the copies in their possession. Such a process could have been easily facilitated using the same technology which allows the tabulation to be displayed.”

The observer mission has taken note that “images of the Statements of Poll published by the PPP/Civic, on its website, which it claims were given to its polling agents after the ballots were counted at each polling station on the night of the elections, produce a result that is vastly different from that being declared by the Returning Officer and would have a decisive effect on the outcome of the national election.”

To date, the observer mission reports that neither the Chief Elections Officer nor APNU has challenged the authenticity of the Statements of Poll published by the PPP/Civic by producing the copies in their possession. “The implications are deeply troubling and make it all the more necessary for the Returning Officer to display the Statements of Poll on which he is relying,” the OAS mission observes.

In concluding, the OAS election observer mission says it was pleased to have declared that the March 2 poll was, in almost all respects, well-executed, adding that the subsequent tabulation of the Statements of Poll in the other nine regions was carried out in compliance with the law and no dispute has arisen in relation to the declaration of results.