Voting begins in Guyana

Voters began casting ballots for a new government in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country with some people standing outside polling stations log before the official opening time.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said that polling will be for a 12 hour period, ending at 6 p.m. (local time) and that it is “well prepared” for the day’s activity. GECOM said 661,000 people are eligible to vote in the elections.

There are an estimated 2,339 polling stations scattered across the country. Tents have also been erected to serve as polling stations, and GECOM Chair, retired Justice Claudette Singh said that security had been beefed up at all polling stations.

Nine political parties

GECOM said that nine political parties are contesting the general elections, while 11 are participating in the regional poll.

Political observers say the contest is a straight fight between the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), whose presidential candidate is the former housing minister Ifraan Ali.

Both parties held rallies last weekend urging voters to put them in office to take care of the country’s socio-economic development over the next five years.

Local, regional and international groups, including the US-based Carter Centre, the Organisation of American States, the Commonwealth, as well as CARICOM, are observing the polls, being billed as one of the most important in Guyana’s political history given the country’s new-found wealth following the discovery of oil and gas.