Election 2006

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Sources: Guyana Elections Commission - Chronicle - Stabroek News. - Guyana Elections 2001

Links: PPP/Civic HomePage - PPP/Civic Election Website - PNC Reform - GAP - ROAR Website

See chart of election results from 1992,1997,2001 and 2006.

Results for 2006 Election

Updated September 3rd. 2006

A unique result

The PPP/C has done better in terms of seats than even it expected, if its "Grand Victory Rally" held at Stewartville not after, but before the election is anything to go on. Such arrogance had more than the whiff of insecurity about it, otherwise why would any party have found it necessary to celebrate a win more than thirty-six hours before the polls even opened? When the PPP/C's campaign speakers in Bartica begged the crowd for votes to give them an overall majority, they probably came closer to revealing their true fears. Yet despite the fact that the party to its presumed surprise has ended up with more seats than it obtained in 2001, in a real sense it did not perform better than last time; it performed considerably worse. Firstly the turnout of 69 per cent may be the lowest for an open election in this country ever, and secondly, in a sense the governing party won by default: that is to say it won because the PNCR-1G lost in style.

To take Region 4 as an example, in 2001 the PPP/C had 74,501 votes, and this time it received 61,896. The result simply looks good because the PNCR's figure of 95,894 in 2001 was slashed to 67,726 this time around. And voter turnout was especially poor here: with 217,168 on the electoral roll for this district, only 148,373 bothered to go and vote (and almost 2,000 of those ballots were spoilt). Added to this, of course, the AFC picked up 13,566 votes in this region. But even in its heartland of Region 6, the PPP/C cannot be thrilled with the result. With 80,434 voters on the list, 57,876 went to cast their ballots; this was 10,000 less than in 2001 with a smaller number of registered voters. The party received 41,713 votes this time around as against 47,701 in 2001. As for Region 10 where its hopes were riding so high, it received around 700 fewer votes than last time. The PNCR votes on the other hand, were slashed by almost half, with 3,016 votes going to the AFC. The rest, it seems, weren't given to anyone, since more than 10,000 voters stayed home and did not bother to show up at the polls at all. So much for cross-over voting in a traditional PNC stronghold.

Now it may be, as was said in Thursday's editorial in this newspaper, that some of those on the register had migrated. Until house to house registration is undertaken it will be impossible to know how many absent voters are accounted for in this way. However, this kind of turnout (including in Amerindian areas) cannot be explained entirely by migration; the electorate is telling the two big parties something, although they have done it in a very understated fashion, and produced a paradoxical result to boot. Eight per cent of the electors went out and put their X next to the AFC, but for the rest, they did not desert their traditional parties, they just did not vote for them - or for anyone else. In such circumstances a non-vote is a statement of a kind.

So what is it the electorate is saying? At the very least the voters have said that they are dissatisfied with our politicians and their performance, and are weary of the way politics is played in Guyana. Where the government is concerned, its supporters' pre-eminent message no doubt related to crime, and the failure of the government to address this problem. In a general sense, however, the electors probably also may have been indicating they did not want more of the same: the same old obsession to control everything, the same old refusal to listen to others, the same old loyalty test for appointments, the same old failure to recognize talent, the same old belief that they have all the answers when given some of their spectacular failures clearly they don't, the same old conspiracy theories, the same old opaqueness when asked to account for anything, the same old denials when things are obviously wrong, the same old lack of inclusiveness, the same old faces in cabinet, the same old rhetoric. The question is, is the PPP/C even capable of recognizing its shortcomings and responding to the nation's need to breathe again?

The message the voters sent to the PNCR was altogether more direct. Allowing for the fact that the party sent confused signals to its supporters prior to the election because of its ambivalence about the electoral list, as well as the fact that a public holiday militated against city voters since there was no public transportation on the streets, nevertheless, there was something else at work. The unprecedented low turnout in the party's heartland is nothing short of a disaster for the main opposition. Since the PNCR is not in government, this has to be a statement about its leadership. The party has done no work among its supporters for a long time, and while they could get away with that under the late Mr Hoyte, who inspired tremendous personal loyalty among the traditional constituency which turned out to vote for him no matter what, the same is not true now that he has gone.

While the PNCR has neglected its power base for a long time, the need at least to bestir itself with an election in the offing, does not appear to have crossed its mind. It did not even bother to ensure its supporters were registered, for example, and it did not make arrangements to see that they went to the polling stations. If you ignore your power base for long enough, it will punish you at the polls, and this is exactly what happened.

In addition, clearly a significant number of PNCR supporters chose to vote for Mr Trotman. The signals are that these are different times: supporters want a new vision and a new face at the top which is not associated with the old discredited politics. They want a party which reorganizes itself to work among them on an ongoing basis and represent their concerns, and a party which can confront the PPP/C at another level entirely - intellectually and in Parliament.

And now Mr Corbin in circumstances which clearly do not warrant it given the abysmal showing of his party at the polls is talking of shared governance. Has he paid no attention to the results at all? The voters made a statement about his performance, among other things, so why does he believe they want him now to share power with the PPP/C? While his intentions are no doubt good, he is nevertheless conveying an altogether different impression of where his true interests lie. As was said in our Thursday editorial, the PNCR had an opportunity for the first time since 1992 to prevent the PPP/C from obtaining an overall majority, and it miffed it. The rank and file cannot possibly want Mr Corbin in government with the PPP/C at this stage; they are waiting to see if the PNCR is capable of introspection and can put its house in order. If it can't do this, it is in danger of wiping itself off the political map at some point in the future.

And as for the AFC which got the best showing of any third party since the 1960s, it has an opportunity to make a difference in Parliament. This is its opening to show those whom it represents that it is prepared to build up expertise on the various issues which come before the House, and confront the governing party when it is pursuing an obviously wrong path. It can indicate to the nation it is prepared to do serious work within the parliamentary framework, appearing at committee meetings and holding the government to account.

It already has among its leaders Mrs Sheila Holder, who acquired a reputation in the last Parliament for hard work; it now has to institutionalise that, and set a standard for monitoring government actions and asking probing questions which could galvanise the rest of the opposition as well. If it makes a good public showing, it will build confidence among the electorate that it deserves people's votes.

This election has produced a result which is unique in the history of this country. The two major parties had better take note. Stabroek Editorial September 3rd. 2006


President Jagdeo to be sworn in today

PRESIDENT-ELECT, incumbent Mr Bharrat Jagdeo will be sworn in to office today, following his People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) victory at the August 28 polls, the Government Information Agency (GINA) confirmed yesterday.

The swearing-in takes place at State House in Georgetown and preparations for it are ongoing, with work being done on the building and lawns while tents are erected to accommodate the invited guests.

GINA said Howard Construction Company is doing minor repairs on the northern end of the edifice.

It was the fourth PPP/C victory at the polls since Guyana gained independence in 1966, when the last was declared on August 31.

Today’s programme will see President Jagdeo being administered the Oath of Office by Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Chief Justice Carl Singh.

GINA said the official function will feature, as well, an announcement by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr Steve Surujbally and the highlight would be an address to the nation by the Head of State, to be followed by a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) 21-Gun Salute.

The Guyana Police Force Band will also provide musical entertainment at the reception which follows, GINA said.


VICTORY HUG: President Bharrat Jagdeo and First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo at Freedom House last night after the PPP/C won Monday's Elections. (Cullen Bess-Neslon photo)


PPP/C sweeps to victory

SECURING a whopping 54.6 per cent of votes cast at Monday’s general and regional elections, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) last night swept to a convincing win of the 2006 polls, giving incumbent President Bharrat Jagdeo, 42, another five-year term to carry out his party’s US$500B development plan.

Saying he was “very, very satisfied” with the conduct of the polls, and confident that he carried out a “credible election,” Chief Election Officer (CEO) Mr. Gocool Boodoo declared the results at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown in the presence of the chairman and commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).


FINAL RESULT: The panel for the official declaration of the 2006 elections results yesterday. From left are Commissioners Mr. Mahmood Shaw, Dr. Keshav Mangal and Mr. Lloyd Joseph, GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally, commissioners Mr. Moen McDoom and Mr. Robert Williams, and Chief Elections Officer Mr. Gocool Boodoo.

The PPP/C, chalking up 183,887 votes, has effectively secured the Parliamentary majority with 36 seats in the National Assembly, two more than the last time, putting the People’s National Congress Reform–One Guyana (PNCR–1G) as the main parliamentary opposition with 22 seats.

Three other parties will also sit in Parliament. Newcomers Alliance for Change (AFC) will occupy six seats, the alliance of the Guyana Action Party and Rise Organise and Rebuild (GAP – ROAR) one seat, and The United Force (TUF) one seat.

Mr. Robert Corbin, the 58-year-old attorney who secured the leadership of the PNCR in early 2003 following the death of Hugh Desmond Hoyte, sunk the party to three Parliamentary seats fewer than it gained in the 2001 polls.

Only 69 per cent of the 492,369 eligible voters went to the polls on Monday, a notable difference from the 2001 polls when 89 per cent of the 440,185 eligible electors cast ballots.

Chief Elections Officer Mr. Gocool Boodoo declares the official results of the 2006 general and regional elections at Le Meridien Pegasus last evening.

For the first time ever, the PPP/C secured Parliamentary seats for all 10 geographic constituencies, notably moving into Region 10, a traditional stronghold of the PNCR. In fact, the PPP/C won majority votes in eight of the 10 geographic constituencies.

The PPP/C secured 15 of the 25 geographic constituency seats, while the PNCR collected nine. The AFC secured the remaining seat, thanks to votes secured in Region Four.

From the national top up list, the PPP/C raked in 21 seats, eight more than the PNCR-1G. The AFC marked up four seats, while GAP-ROAR and TUF secured one each.

The PPP/C swept the polls with compelling victories in Regions Two, Three, and Six. It also secured the most votes in Regions One, Five, Seven, Eight and Nine.

The PNCR continued its main hold on Region Four, and took the lead in Region 10, though it had to share the two geographic seats for this region with the PPP/C.

Mr. Boodhoo debunked suggestions that his declaration of the finals results was late, saying the law gives him 15 days within which to announce the results, and he did it in three days.

He said the elections were credible, declaring “there could be no question about that.” The CEO said he was accustomed to litigation and was prepared to deal with any such challenge to the elections and the results he announced.

Opposition commissioner of GECOM, Mr. Robert Williams said if he did not endorse the elections and the results, he would not have been present at the declaration of the results.

Also present, were the other opposition commissioner Mr. Floyd Joseph, and the PPP/C commissioners Dr. Keshav `Bud’ Mangal, Mr. Moen McDoom, and Mr. Mahmood Shaw.

GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally said the nation owed gratitude to an “indefatigable” Boodoo and he also praised Deputy CEO Mr. Calvin Benn, and Assistant CEO, Mr. Keith Lowenfield.

He also thanked the local and foreign observers, the Joint International Technical Assessors, media consultant Tim Neale, and congratulated the parties for their “maturity” and the media for its “copious” work.

The other parties which contested the elections but did not win any Parliamentary seats were the Justice For All Party, Guyana National Congress, Liberal Democrats, National Democratic Party and the People’s Republican Party.


Jagdeo back by landslide

The PPP/C was last night declared the official winner of the general elections with 54.6% of the national votes to secure 36 seats in the 65-member parliament.

Led by incumbent President Bharrat Jagdeo who will return for a second term, the party received 183,887 of the 336,375 valid votes counted for the elections, to gain two seats more than its showing at 2001 polls despite getting 26,000 fewer votes. The main opposition PNCR-1G coalition accounted for 34% of the count, receiving 114,608 votes for 22 seats, for a loss of five seats. The party got 50,000 less votes than at the last elections. Meanwhile, the AFC, which was formed less than a year ago by ex-members of the two major parties, amassed 28,366 votes or an 8.4% share to manage five seats; GAP-ROAR collected 4,249 votes and the TUF 2,694 to secure the remaining two. JFAP, which had established an early lead over the TUF, received 2,571 votes, which were not enough for a seat at the end of the count. The regional results were almost identical.

Overall, there was a voter turnout of 69% from the 492,369 voters on the official list - significantly lower than the 89% recorded five year ago. However, the inclusion of post-2001 migrants on the list is one factor that could potentially skew the turnout since it inflates the list although there are no estimates of these figures are available.

Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodoo declared the results shortly after 8 pm last night in between frequent sips of water and amidst an almost ceaseless cacophony of ringing cellular phones at the GECOM media centre at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel. He said afterward that he was "very satisfied" that a credible election had been delivered to the people. "There is no question about it," he remarked, while adding that the declaration of the results have never been done so quickly.

The results were announced with GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally on hand, along with the three PPP/C-nominated members, Dr Keshav Mangal, Mohamood Shaw, and Moen McDoom as well as the opposition-nominees, Lloyd Joseph and Robert Williams. The other opposition-nominated member, Haslyn Parris, resigned at the end of July in light of his concerns over the preparations for the elections. Joseph and Williams had expressed their own concerns in the run up to the polls, but endorsed last night's results. "If they weren't endorsed I would not be here," Williams said, while Joseph was more guarded, explaining that the questions about the issues he was concerned about are still to be legally determined. "The endorsement does not mean that those questions have been resolved, but I have a responsibility to discharge and I had to follow procedures to the end - to the extent that the law was followed," he said.

Boodoo, responding to a question about possible legal challenges to the results, noted that he had become "very accustomed" to them and would deal with any eventuality.

According to the results given by Boodoo, the PPP/C received 21 national top up seats and 15 geographical constituency seats to claim an overall parliamentary majority; the PNCR-1G received 13 national top up seats and nine geographical constituency seats for its 22 seats; the AFC received four national top up seats and one geographical constituency seat for its five overall. GAP-ROAR and the TUF each received one seat at the national top up level. The PPP/C's geographical constituency seats comprised three in Region 4, two each in Regions 2, 3 and 6, and one each in Regions 1, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10; the PNCR-1G's nine seats comprise three in Region 4; and one each in Regions 1, 3,5,6,7,and 10. The AFC got one seat in Region 4.

While the PNCR topped the vote count in Region 4 with 68,112 votes, its traditional majority was considerably eroded as the PPP/C was not far behind with 62,386 votes, a difference of 5,726. At the last elections the differential was more than 21,000 votes. Behind the two parties, the AFC collected 13,876 votes, which could have accounted for the erosion of the PNCR's support.

Boodoo announced the results after receiving statements of declaration of results from the Returning Officers of the 10 polling districts where the votes for each party list were recorded. The declaration came a day after the date by which the results were originally promised and it remains to be seen whether the new parliament would be established by the September 2 constitutional deadline. According to Article 69(1) of the Constitution, the first sitting of the Parliament is due to be held four months after its dissolution - which is Saturday.

Boodoo could not answer the question last night and said it was legal matter.

By law, the President has to be sworn in, while representatives of parties' lists have to extract the names of the candidates for election to parliament. The CEO is required to submit the names of the candidates to the Clerk of the Parliament, who will then finalise the arrangements for the meeting. GECOM is responsible for providing the members with a certification of the election.

There is also supposed to be a notification by way of a special issue of the Official Gazette, to inform the number of votes for each list of candidates; the number of rejected ballots; the number of seats allocated to each list of candidates; and the names of the persons who as a result of the election have become members of the parliament. Afterward, the President shall appoint the date for the first session of the new Parliament by proclamation.

Coinciding with these activities, the Chief Election Officer is to inform the Clerks of the Regional Democratic Councils and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development of the extraction of the names for the persons who have been elected to be members of the councils. The Clerks will afterward organise the council meetings to elect the chairs and vice-chairs. Stabroek News September 1st. 2006


PNCR-1G accepts GECOM results

The PNCR-1G, having completed its evaluation of the statements of poll submitted by its polling agents, has stated that its results closely approximate those announced so far by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

In a statement issued last night, the PNCR-1G said that while it was disappointed with the voter turnout the platform nevertheless congratulated the people of Guyana, "who by their exemplary conduct on Elections Day, defied the prophets of doom."

The statement said that the PNCR-1G will shortly publish its evaluation of the electoral process and the conduct of the polls on Election Day. Among the areas that would be addressed are, the lack of a level playing field for political parties including the misuse of the state media, even on polling day, to promote the interest of the governing party; the failure to verify the voters' list and its implications for the elections; undue difficulties faced by electors for both registration and voting; and inefficiencies in the functioning of GECOM.

Now that the elections were over the PNCR-1G assured its supporters that the results were not what the platform had hoped for, however, it would resolutely promote and defend their interests.

In addition, the PNCR said that it would be pursuing a number of initiatives to enhance economic well-being as it seeks to move Guyana forward with the One Guyana platform. Stabroek News September 1st. 2006


PPP/C on way to majority -final results delayed

The PPP/C was last night emerging as the unofficial winner of Monday's general elections with enough votes to secure a parliamentary majority based on the results from 92% of polling stations.

The results available for 1852 of the 1999 polling stations showed that the incumbent received 174,155 of the 313,964 valid votes that were counted by the 8 pm update after it took eight of the ten electoral districts to amass an unassailable lead in the polls. The main opposition PNCR-1G coalition which accumulated 105,288 of the votes seemed on its way to recording its worst result in democratic elections, although it maintained a slim majority in Districts 4 and 10, which have been traditional strongholds. The AFC has thus far posted the highest votes for a third party since the United Force in 1964, receiving 26,094 of the votes. GAP-ROAR received 3,556, JFAP 2,426, and the TUF 2,345.

Though still to be worked out, the 65-seat parliament would see the PPP/C retaining its 34 seats, the PNCR(-1G) falling from 27 to 23 and the AFC clinching six seats. Two other seats were still up for grabs and one could possibly go to the GAP-ROAR alliance based on its Region 9 showing and the other to CN Sharma's Justice For All Party. The United Force, a parliamentary participant for many years was unlikely to retain its seat.

Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodoo was unable to declare the official results as scheduled last night without the completed count of statements of poll for all the stations although updated figures were released throughout the night.

The figure for total votes cast by the time of the update was 318, 631, with 313,964 counted as valid after the subtraction of 4,667 rejected ballots. The figure of cast ballots represented a 65% turnout of the 492,369 voters in the official list, although the figure was expected to be adjusted with the declaration of the outstanding results. The numbers for regional elections did not differ greatly, with 316,318 ballots cast of which 310,891 were counted as valid after the subtraction of 5,427 rejected ballots. Like at the national polls, the PPP/C claimed the majority with 170,216 votes, while the PNCR-1G got 105,383, and the AFC 25,240. GAP-ROAR received 3,890, JFAP 3,251, TUF 2,482, GNC 146, LD 136, and PRP 128.

The one sobering fact from the results thus far for the ruling party is that it is securing its majority with around 27,000 less votes than it did in 2001 - and this despite a high-energy campaign that blanketed the country over the last few weeks. Analysts attributed this to voter apathy and the battering the ruling party has taken over the crime situation. The opposition PNCR was likely to get around 44,000 less votes than it got in 2001 and analysts suggested that this was as a result of the twin-track campaign it ran - pledging no elections without verification. In the end it contested the elections without verification.

Boodoo said he would not risk giving partial results and would wait for the outstanding figures, though he mentioned that he had started to calculate the allocation of seats.

Boodoo explained that by virtue of section 84:01 of the Representation of the People Act, each Returning Officer would have to make a public declaration at their district office before he could advise the commission. "This has been a very controversial issue in the past," he pointed out, "We are not going to make those kinds of mistakes again."

At that point, Boodoo confirmed that statements of poll were available for all stations save for two that had to be verified. He explained that there were some arithmetical errors that would legally have to be corrected by the Returning Officers, which held up some of the declarations. "The law makes it quite clear the Returning Officers have to do it and that is one of the sticky areas we have on our hands right now," he said.

GECOM had given assurances that the final result would be out much quicker than in the previous three elections but with yesterday's deferral it would not be much of a change from 2001. GECOM had contracted an expert to advise on how to improve the speed of the final declaration and it is unclear whether any such measures were finally implemented.

Despite a much-vaunted campaign in Region 10, the PPP/C was likely to end with around 2,600 votes - significantly less than the 3,985 it picked up in 2001 and the 3,000 it claimed as the size of one of its major pre-election launch rallies in Linden. The ruling party was also likely to experience a decline of around 6,000 votes in its major stronghold of Region Six.

Based on the 92% results last night, the AFC had its strongest showing in Region Four where it notched up 12,900 votes and it also picked up 2,510 votes in Region 10 - just under half of the PNCR-1G's tally. The AFC also secured 2,733 votes in Region Three and 2,834 votes in Region Six.

Boodoo also assured the security of ballot boxes and noted that there were no reports of breaches. He said the parties had up to midday Tuesday to ask for a recount and since then the boxes have been secured and only a court of law could require them to be opened. Stabroek News August 31st. 2006


Corbin calls for national unity government -- commits to environment of peace

COMMITTING itself to an environment of peace and calling for inclusive governance, the People’s National Congress-One Guyana (PNCR-1G) last evening appeared to have conceded defeat with latest results pointing to a majority win for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).

“We must now, not tomorrow, or next month, agree to devise a new model of governance where all stakeholders can feel confident that they will be included in the process and enjoy the fruit of development,” PNCR leader, Mr. Robert Corbin said in a TV address.

The last official announcement of the results by Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Gocool Boodoo, at 20:00 h, showed the PNCR-1G behind the PPP/C by more than 60,000 votes, with just 147 of 1,999 Statements of Poll to be verified.

Corbin said his party was monitoring the results of GECOM, but he did not venture to dispute them.

He told his supporters the party would not abandon them and will “prevent the PPP/C from continuing its policy of the arbitrary use of power and the resources of the state to victimize, marginalize and humiliate those persons who have supported the PNCR-1G and other opposition parties.”

“My party will pursue this course of action as part of its campaign to deepen the democratic process and to establish good governance, fair play and justice,” he said.

Corbin declared that his party is “firmly committed to an environment of peace” and “has and can have no interest in creating or encouraging conditions of instability.”

The continuing calm of these polls is a stark difference from the violence of the previous three elections for which the PNCR was blamed as these resulted from its anti-government street protests.

According to Corbin, the PNCR-1G platform carried out a vigorous campaign highlighting programmes and proposals for making Guyana into a modern 21st century state under a model of shared governance or government of national unity.

He said his party has been busy recording the results declared at the individual polling stations and monitoring the announcements by GECOM to ensure that they were consistent with the information provided by its party agents.

“From the results before us it is clear that, in large measure, the ethnic voting patterns have remained deep-seated,” Corbin said. His party is mainly supported by Afro-Guyanese, while the PPP/C is mainly supported by Indo-Guyanese.

He said despite the fact that the PNCR-1G conducted a campaign based on the issues and eschewed any appeal to race “the results have indicated that ethnic voting patterns continue to manifest themselves.”

Corbin argued that the election results have demonstrated yet again that the current system of governance in Guyana is “woefully inadequate as a vehicle for forging national unity and continues to be the basis of the existing political instability that suffocates our nation.”

“It must, therefore, be obvious to all that a government of national unity, based on the principle of shared governance, is essential to enable the nation to overcome its present difficulties and get on with the business of real economic development,” he stated.

He claimed there is a hardened perception among a substantial section of the Afro-Guyanese community that they could not survive five more years of the PPP/C rule.

“On behalf of the PNCR-1G we issue a serious call to the entire political leadership of Guyana to save our country from the imminent peril it faces. There can be no more noble a cause for us to serve at this time. Our viability as a nation must be secured and we stand ready tonight to commence and complete the process expeditiously,” Corbin declared.

He added that in the party’s recent manifesto, the PNCR-1G restated and re-emphasised this as essential for the rapid development of Guyana.

Corbin said his party campaigned on a platform which promised to empower the youth of the country, and assured those who worked hard during their campaign that the party will continue its efforts to realize this promise.

“In this regard, the PNCR, in collaboration with others, will work with the youth of this country to access the required resources so as to enable them to realise their potential, as envisaged in the party’s Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES),” he stated.


Peace holds as results unfold

THE calm that has surprisingly dominated the 2006 elections held yesterday as the nation awaited the final official results of Monday’s general and regional voting, with normalcy slowly returning to Georgetown and other parts of the coast.

As the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) appealed for patience while the official vote count was still under way 24 hours after the polls closed, the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was maintaining earlier forecasts of a comfortable victory, with the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G) also projecting victory in a “dead heat” with its traditional main rival.

GECOM also held back from giving an official voter turnout percentage until more information was received as international observers joined in commending the electorate, political parties, the Police and Army and others for ensuring peace since Polling Day.

Cautious store owners and other business places, including banks and service stations, yesterday kept shutters on their store fronts and a wary eye out for street protesters who turned violent during post-polling disturbances in the 1992, 1997 and 2001 elections.

But there was no sign of trouble and as night fell, an eerie kind of hush descended on streets around Georgetown and along the East Coast Demerara and other parts of the coast, with very little traffic and few people around.

Night brought almost a repeat of the situation that prevailed Monday in many parts of the coast.

The Army and Police maintained patrols in the sensitive capital, and in an effective demonstration of their readiness to deal with any sign of trouble, units were quickly on the scene at a fire which broke out in a house on Lamaha Street yesterday morning.

They kept a close watch as fire fighters went into action to try to contain the flames which erupted in the house while an old lady was trying to make coffee.

Some stores opened for business on the usually busy Regent Street after the national holiday on Elections Day Monday and there was a sprinkling of shoppers around the city’s commercial sector.

But sellers and shoppers were few in the normally busy city markets, with many stalls tightly closed and not much goods displayed for sale.

There was an air of cautious optimism as the city, its citizens and visitors struggled to fight off the lingering but ever present fear of trouble from the post-elections violence of 1992, 1997 and 2001.

Mini-buses were back again on their usual city and out of town routes, there were more taxis on the roads but many people appeared to be holding their breath until the final official elections results are out – maybe by tonight or early tomorrow.

Some people appeared worried at the slow release of the results but GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, earning praise from observers and others for the smooth polls conduct, yesterday appealed for patience.

He said the results are going through a stringent process of verification and rechecking before being released in an effort to ensure that there are “absolutely no errors”, and that they can withstand the “harshest of scrutiny”.

GECOM, he declared at a press conference, “will not sacrifice accuracy on the twin altars of alacrity and expediency”.

While President Bharrat Jagdeo lauded GECOM for the “wonderful conduct” of Monday’s general and regional elections, PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, was not that impressed.

“I wish to congratulate GECOM and the staff of GECOM for the wonderful conduct of the elections yesterday (Monday)...I think things went smoothly in spite of minor glitches which are associated with elections everywhere in the world and I am very pleased that everyone recognized that and acknowledged it, including the international community”, President Jagdeo told reporters yesterday

The President also commended the security forces – the Police Force and the Army - for a job well done.

But Corbin, while acknowledging that the general environment was mainly peaceful and devoid of significant tension, and commending the Guyanese people in all regions for conducting themselves in an orderly and responsible manner, charged that the elections process did not go smoothly as GECOM had promised.

He alleged that there was collusion between GECOM officials and PPP/C party activists, and at other stations, there was single-handed skulduggery performed by “a few” Presiding Officers.


PPP/C leads

Partial results for the elections show the incumbent PPP/C in the lead with more than 55% of the counted votes.

After the first full day of counting, the PPP/C received 90,601 of the 164,564 valid votes that were counted by 11 pm last night from partial results from the electoral districts 1,2,3,4,6 and 7; the main opposition PNCR-1G coalition received 56,618 votes (34%); the AFC 13,916 (8.5%); JFAP 1,603; GAP-ROAR 846; and TUF 620.

The figures were generated from 922 completed statements of poll for the 1999 polling stations that were set up in the country's ten electoral districts, but the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) could not say what percentage of the overall turnout they represented or which specific areas they belonged to.

Although there were 493,369 eligible voters on the list there was a low turnout at the polls and none of the officials would speculate about the reasons for this occurrence. In the 2001 election 403,734 votes were cast and the PPP/C captured 210,013.

It was still a close race in District 4 (Demerara/ Mahaica), where the PPP/C accumulated 44,926 of the 95,709 valid votes that were counted from 512 of the region's 763 polling stations. The PNCR-1G was not far behind in its stronghold with 40,560 votes, while the AFC took 8,780. Among the smaller parties, the JFAP received 1019 votes; the GAP-ROAR received 224; and the TUF 200. Read full article


PPP/C confident of victory, despite `mixed’ voter turnout

THE People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is confident of winning yesterday’s elections, despite low voter turnout in some areas in which it traditionally had strong support.

After close of polls last evening, party General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar described the voter turnout as “mixed”, saying while it was high in some of its stronghold areas there was a low turnout in others.

However, he said the party, which has held the seat of government for 14 years, was not “worried” but “very confident” of victory again.

His comments came at a press conference at his party headquarters, Freedom House, some four hours after polls closed.

During the day, the party’s presidential candidate, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, seeking re-election, visited several East Coast Demerara villages, where he urged residents to vote and to help others to do likewise.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) said the President’s visit was prompted by reports from polling agents that “there was a lull in the voting process.”

Lusignan, Martyrsville and Mon Repos were some of the villages the President visited, GINA stated,

During the visit, the agency said, it was observed that most persons had already voted and the President urged them to assist others to participate in the process.

“You can go to the areas and see if persons are voting. Despite the large turnout early, everybody did not come out to vote. We have to get every person out. You can go into the communities and assist your neighbour to come out and vote,” the President was quoted as saying to residents.

Some nine hours into polling, the PPP General Secretary said his party was pleased with the conduct of the polls, despite the fact that some supporters, like at Crane, West Coast Demerara and Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, could not find their names on the list.

However, he said such reports were minimal and his party was “extremely happy” with the state of calmness on elections day, noting that there were no “major incidents” to report.

Ramotar indicated that while voter turnout was high in the early morning when polling places opened at 06:00 h, it eased around noon.

The PPP General Secretary, at a press briefing at Freedom House, said there seems to have been a misunderstanding in some elections officials at polling places not allowing party agents to observe the process. He said this happened to its agents in Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni).

The Alliance For Change and the Justice For All Party complained about this early in the day, but Guyana Elections Commission Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally explained that no directive was issued to prevent party agents without accreditation letters from entering polling places.

REGION THREE

Early morning voting saw almost empty polling stations in Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) just after noon.

While patrols of the Police and the Army were not pronounced, all the polling stations were guarded by either Police or Rural Constables. They reported that activity at their polling places was peaceful, noting that there was heavy voting early in the morning.

Visits were made to polling places at Parika, Vergenoegen and Tuschen, all on the East Bank of Essequibo, and to Met-en-Meerzorg, Den Amstel and Vreed-en-hoop on the West Coast Demerara. On the West Bank Demerara, the situation was the same from La Grange to Wales.

At Met-en-Meerzorg, one woman said she could not find her name at the three polling places she was directed to. After calling the GECOM hotlines without success, she decided to give up.

No incidents were reported at any of the polling places and at noon, officials in most were sitting, awaiting any voter who would turn up.

In the villages, residents completed voting and went back to their homes peacefully and many said they were catching up with work at home.

Some 67,000 were listed as eligible electors for Region Three. Guyana Chronicle August 29th. 2006


Trouble-free voting

Voters cast their ballots across the country yesterday at what were peaceful elections, although initial results point to a lower than expected turnout and while the PPP/C and the PNCR-1G were showing solid results in their strongholds the Alliance For Change also had good returns in some areas.

Up to 1.30 this morning, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was unable to give any preliminary results on the counting of ballots from 1,999 polling stations that were set up across the country. This failure occurred despite assurances that GECOM would begin releasing results quickly. But initial reports from the field pointed to a low turnout among the 493,369 eligible voters on the official voters' list. By mid-afternoon, GECOM had reported a 55% turnout, or around 270,000 voters but no estimates were given afterwards. Stabroek News reporters gathered figures from several polling stations and abridged versions of these can be found on page 10.

At the 2001 elections, there were 396,516 votes counted from a list of 440,185.

Chief Election officer Gocool Boodoo refused to make any figures available last night without verifying them with an original statement of poll. "I don't want to speculate," he said. "We have to be extremely careful about what we relay to the media." He said counting of the ballots would be done by an IT team and manually and he reported that it was being done at a satisfactory rate although some checking was to be done. The counting of ballots in District 3 was completed and the results were to have been available by midnight. Boodoo said a full account would be given at an update at 6 am this morning. More updates are expected throughout the day, while the commission hopes to declare final results by tomorrow night at the earliest.

The election process was peaceful throughout the country and the police and the army maintained constant mobile patrols on the streets. There was an incident of voters being verbally threatened at the Cove and John polling station but police responded immediately, resulting in the disbanding of the threatening group and the resumption of voting. Later, shortly before the close of polls the commission was also informed that supporters of a party who had already voted were being bussed to polling stations in certain areas. The police were again called in to intervene. The party was not identified.

Voting was heavy from the 6 am opening of polls, even with intermittent showers during the morning. GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally told reporters that all the stations opened punctually and electors stood in line, waited patiently for their turn and behaved in a mature and orderly fashion. He estimated that the rain might have influenced the turnout by the mid-morning and the early afternoon. Added to that, there were problems at some locations but he said tranquil and orderly voting continued. "I am convinced we carried out our mandate pretty well," he later told a news conference after the close of polls. "We have listened and observed problems; we have tried to solve them. That is our role. That is our responsibility," he added.

GECOM teams were dispatched around the city to assist presiding officers at polling stations where problems were encountered by the electors. However, the commission reported that these were not widespread overall. "I know it's not large," Surujbally said, "…I know that it's not huge." There were electors who did not know where they were designated to vote; there were instances where electors turned up at the wrong stations; and there were also some who could not find their names on the list at all.

In many cases, the electors had not checked to ensure that their names were on the voters' list before they turned up at the polling stations (although there were some who had checked in advance but discovered upon turning up that they had been relocated to other stations in the area).

Dr Surujbally admitted that one of the reasons for this development had been the use of school complexes where there were multiple stations, causing congestion while persons tried to find their names on the list. "We might have to rethink it," he said, "It's getting us into some trouble."

Others had registered in different areas but did not effect transfers.

This was the situation in Sophia, where there were numerous complaints by electors who could not find their names on the lists at stations. Dr Surujbally noted that the area had originated as a squatting area and was regularised recently as a part of the capital city and he explained that many of the residents came from rural areas and took up residence without effecting transfers. "That means that they are still on the [voters' list] in the district or area from which they originated and where they are registered," he explained.

Opposition-nominated member of the commission Robert Williams told the news conference that he had overseen the voting in South Georgetown, where there were nearly 100 stations. "I dare anyone to say that there is a problem there at any polling place that has not been solved or that has been of any consequences," Williams said. He singled out the Albouystown area, noting that while there had been problems in the past, there was "absolutely no problem" this time around. He said Ruimveldt had a few hitches in the morning, because the East Ruimveldt School housed about 14 polling stations and there was congestion at the start of the day. However, he did sound the first warning that the turnout fell short of expectations. "The turnout has not been which we all anticipated in all the polling places I visited and that obviously may have a significant impact on the results of the elections," he said. The public holiday and the absence of public transportation were among the reasons given for the poor turnout.

There was a slight gaffe at the start of polling when the AFC and the JFAP reported that their party agents were being denied entry into polling places because officials were asking them for letters of accreditation. Similar problems were encountered by some domestic observers. However, GECOM, upon receipt of the reports, quickly sought to address the situation and instructed its returning officers to ensure that presiding officers at the polling stations allow entry to all political party agents and observers with identification cards.

According to the Government Information Agency, President Bharrat Jagdeo took note of the initial glitches, including the congestion at schools, but he said they were to be expected in such a large scale exercise. "They are trying to sort these things out now," he was quoted as saying. PNCR-1G Presidential Candidate Robert Corbin's prognosis was far bleaker. "Not good, not good," he said outside the Sophia Primary School, where several people were unable to find their names on the list. Corbin and his aides were checking the list electronically to help the voters find their correct polling places. "I need every palm tree I can get," he exclaimed as more people thronged him for help. Later, the elections commission deployed a mobile information unit to the area to assist electors who were unable to find their designated stations.

There were several polling day measures that were put in place to give parties the assurance that there could be no occurrence of any multiple voting or other electoral fraud.

There were paid party agents as well as the use of photographs of voters on folios that were in the possession of presiding officers at stations. Doubts were however raised over the indelible ink that was used to stain voter's fingerprints after several persons managed to remove it. Accountant Christopher Ram like several other persons explained that he used regular bleach to get the stain off his finger which exhibited no trace of the ink. A veteran educator as well as a senior journalist also achieved similar results.

Dr Surujbally said later he did not believe the occurrence to be widespread. He added that overall the commission had received no reports of any breaches although there were a few irregularities at specific stations. On two occasions - at Eccles and at Wauna - the commission removed two presiding officers who deviated from the standard procedure. At Eccles, the officer allowed about 20 persons who were not registered at the polling station and who were not in possession of IDs to vote with ordinary ballots. Boodoo said the officer was removed from official duty and corrective action taken immediately. He said the incident was being investigated. At Wauna, the presiding officer issued tendered ballots instead of ordinary ballots to some electors. According to the law, tendered ballots are not to be counted. There was another irregularity at two other polling stations - the Sophia Primary and the West Demerara Secondary School - where stickers belonging to the governing PPP/C were found on the ballot boxes. These were removed as soon as they were discovered, although the occurrence it did cause some discomfort among voters at the stations. Dr Surujbally said the incidents were both upsetting and mind boggling since they occurred under the watch of presiding officers, their deputies as well as polling clerks and the party agents on hand.

By mid-morning the sorting of the non-resident elector's ballots was done at the commission under the observation of political parties and some local observers. There were 58 envelopes with ballots that were sorted for polling districts #4 (52), #5(4) and #10 (2). All envelopes with the cast ballots were sealed and dispatched to the polling districts for casting at polling stations that were supposed to have been identified. The envelopes with the disciplined forces ballots were also dispatched to the respective returning officer for transmission to the polling station identified for them to be cast before the close of poll.

GECOM has made arrangements for the transmission of a results display screen to all TV stations in Greater Georgetown. The results display screen would carry the periodic announcements and statements that will be made by the commission. Stabroek News August 29th. 2006


The parties speak on crime, unemployment and education

People's National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G) : Education and human development - Stabroek News August 27th. 2006
The Alliance For Change - the troika of economic retardation - Stabroek News August 27th. 2006
GAP-ROAR's policies on crime, unemployment and education - Stabroek News August 20th. 2006
The United Force) The right leadership - ready to lead Guyana - Stabroek News August 20th. 2006
Justice For All Party Crime, unemployment and the economy - Stabroek News August 20th. 2006


Parties wrap up campaign -- PPP/C leads in closing rallies

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo, plugging unity and equitable distribution of wealth in a US$500B development plan for the next five years, fuelled enthusiasm last evening among mainly sugar workers and rice farmers at Stewartville, West Coast Demerara to pull off the most massive of rallies closing off campaigning for tomorrow’s general and regional elections.

At the 1763 Monument Square in Georgetown, the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform–One Guyana (PNCR-1G) rallied thousands, but fell way behind the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).

Though the rally was scheduled to start at 18:30 h, PNCR-1G’s presidential candidate Mr. Robert Corbin, the 58-year-old attorney who is leading his party into the elections for the first time, was a no-show at 21:30 h.

The Alliance for Change, which has emerged as the third main player in the elections, suffered a humiliating last lap, with a small number of supporters at Parade Ground, in Georgetown, where its campaign had an embarrassing start when the stage collapsed with all its leaders on top.


MASS TURNOUT: a section of the huge crowd of supporters at the PPP/C final campaign rally. (Quacy Sampson photo)

PPP/C

Mr. Jagdeo, 42, a Moscow-educated economist, hammered home his party’s accomplishment of moving debt repayment from 94 per cent of revenue in 1992 to 12 per cent today, saying that for this reason, if nothing else, his party deserves victory again.

He is leading his party into the elections without, for the first time in the party’s 56-year history, Mrs. Janet Jagan, the widow of party founder late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan. UPBEAT: PPP/C presidential candidate Bharrat Jagdeo at yesterday’s mass rally at Stewartville. (Quacy Sampson photo)

Mrs. Jagan is not a candidate for the PPP/C for the first time, but Mr. Jagdeo vowed to supporters to fulfil the dream of the late Dr. Jagan.

The party’s supporters, from elderly men and women, to young mothers clinging babies in hands, engaged in sobering celebration of Bob Marley’s “Don’t worry about a thing.” They remembered these were among the last words the late President uttered to his wife.

Mr. Jagdeo is the longest serving head-of-state for the PPP/C which came to power 14 years ago, after surviving 28 years in opposition. Mr. Jagdeo became President in 1999 when Mrs. Jagan resigned due to health reasons, and this is the last time he can face the electorate, having already done so at the March 2001 polls.

The PPP/C Stewartville rally was among the biggest it has held in the month of campaigning for the polls. It was the first such rally in Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara), where hundreds of families depend on the sugar estates at Wales, West Bank Demerara and Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara.

Mr. Jagdeo vowed that the PPP/C will not close down the Demerara estates and endanger the livelihoods of those families. His declaration caused supporters to erupt in celebration, whether they were sitting beside the trench, standing, or atop their vehicles.

The decision of the party to take its last rally to Region Three saw widespread support also from rice farmers and the working class, who have benefited from the low income housing schemes set up in the Region, Parfaitte/Harmonie and Tuschen being the largest.

 

The current government has distributed just more than 12, 000 house lots in the region since it came into office and apart from the eight housing schemes that were set up, regional candidate Dr. Moti Singh said 23 squatting areas are being regularised.

He said the crowd support showed that the PPP/C can win Region Three, which has an estimated 67,000 electors.

Mr. Jagdeo urged his supporters to go out and vote early and all the speakers, who included Ms. Bibi Shadick and Ms. Gail Teixeira urged voters to be vigilant and make sure they vote correctly.

PNC/R-1G

The PNCR-1G did not manage to attract the convincing crowd it needed to demonstrate that it can muster the majority and take away power from the PPP/C.

The thousands of supporters who waved the symbolic palm tree and shouted the name of the party’s presidential candidate as it repeated its plan for victory was not any better than that it attracted for its opening rally.

Mr. Corbin failed to show three hours after the scheduled start time.


IN THEIR NUMBERS: a section of the thousands at the PNCR-1G final rally at the
1763 Monument Square in Georgetown last night. (Delano Williams photo)

New candidate Mr. Roy Babel, a reporter who worked at the Evening News, and whose publisher Anthony Viera is also contesting the elections under PNCR-1G, said the party has the persons with the vision to lead the country.

He claimed that the PPP/C has been stifling the country’s development for the past five years and has monopolised certain critical sectors of Guyana such as communication, refusing to allow another television station to operate in Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Berbice).

The PNCR-1G, said if elected, it would provide house lots for all persons between the ages of 18-35 and establish a voluntary National Service for persons to learn life skills.

In addition, the party said it would open five new towns from Rockstone to Lethem. It also promised its supporters economic prosperity and a reduction in crime.

The party’s programme last night included cultural items by Yoruba Singers, Basil Bradshaw and others.

AFC

The AFC’s final rally got off to a late start.

At 18:00 h, when it was intended to start, only a small group of supporters gathered and were seen enjoying the music, as they mingled with each other.

This was far smaller than the sizeable group for its opening rally weeks ago.

Mr Gerhard Ramsaroop, executive member of the AFC, told this newspaper there were about 25-30 cars that came from Plaisance, East Coast Demerara as part of a motorcade.

He said there were many supporters along the way as they drove through the East Coast on the way to Parade Ground.

An hour after the intended time for the start of the programme, Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes began a speech on the party’s behalf, but leaders Raphael Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan, and Sheila Holder had not yet turned up.

Ten parties are contesting tomorrow’s elections. Guyana Chronicle August 27th. 2006


Official elections results by Wednesday -- GECOM

THE official declaration of results of the 2006 general and regional elections will be made Wednesday evening, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has advised.

However, Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodhoo will give the first progress report on the counting of the ballots at 23:00 h on polling day.

Mr. Boodhoo, and GECOM chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally and his Commissioners will preside when the official announcement is made at 20:00 h Wednesday, GECOM said in a statement to the media.

According to GECOM, it will deliver scheduled and unscheduled public updates, on a 24-hour basis, on the conduct of the elections, and will give accumulating totals of votes cast for each of the ten political parties contesting the elections.

Voting starts at 06:00 h on Monday and will close 12 hours after. Guyana Chronicle August 27th. 2006


What would happen - In the event of a hung parliament? - In the event of a hung parliament?

Recent polls point to the small possibility of a hung parliament after the elections, which could result in a rare minority government.

The NACTA polls commissioned by Stabroek News up to August 20 projected that the incumbent PPP/C would retain the presidency, but could possibly fall short of an overall majority of seats in the 65-member Parliament, although it was noted that the governing party was gaining momentum. The last commissioned poll found that at that stage the PPP/C (with 47% support) could win around 30 seats, the PNCR-1G 18 (27%), the AFC 10 (16%), GAP-ROAR 2 (2%)), JFAP 2 (4%) and TUF 1 (1%). At the 2001 polls, the PPP/C notched 34 seats, the PNCR 27, GAP/WPA 2, ROAR 1 and the TUF 1. NACTA noted that the AFC could end up holding the balance in the parliament, having found that the two major parties, the PPP/C and the PNCR-1G would lose seats as a result of the emergence of the new party as well as because of the gains made by the JFAP. The first three NACTA polls had a 4% margin of error.

If none of the parties wins an outright majority the result could be a minority government heavily dependent on compromises among the parties to ensure the passage of legislation, including the country's budget.

According to constitutional expert Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, the electoral system allows for the possibility of a hung parliament, though he felt it impossible. He said in such a scenario, the law would still allow for the president to appoint ministers and the cabinet, though the government would be unable to arbitrarily push through legislation - a major criticism of the incumbent. Roopnaraine explained that the situation would warrant constant negotiation for the passage of legislation and especially the approval of the budget estimates. On the latter point, he noted that if the minority government were to fail to get the support of the other parties it would be unable to access the Consolidated Fund.

The first test of such a situation would be the election of the Speaker of the National Assembly. Article 56 (1) of the constitution says when the National Assembly first meets and before it proceeds to any other business, it shall elect a person to be the Speaker. According to the Standing Orders, the election of the Speaker is determined by the agreement of a majority after a willing candidate is proposed and seconded by a member. The Standing Orders do not provide for a debate on the proposals for the post, only allowing for members to call for a division on the proposals.

What is more, a hung parliament could also see the head of state and the government being forced out of office on a majority vote by members of the house. Article 106 of the constitution says the cabinet, including the president shall resign if the government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of no confidence. Further, it says notwithstanding its defeat the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or a longer period determined by a vote of two-thirds of the assembly. The government would then resign after the president takes the oath of office following the elections.

Another possibility of a hung parliament would also see smaller parties shaping the parliamentary agenda. Here, GAP-ROAR, the TUF and the JFAP could make a difference. TUF leader Manzoor Nadir, who served in the PPP/C government as Minister of Tourism for the last five years, is certainly not lost to the importance of the small parties. "…Whoever is the president would have to make alliances in the National Assembly in order to pass laws. TUF could make a big difference," he told Stabroek News recently.

President Bharrat Jagdeo said on Friday that the PPP/C would be willing to work with all in an enhanced framework for cooperation, but he stressed that there would be no coalition or power-sharing. He predicted a majority win for the party and said the opposition could come on board once they subscribed to the PPP/C government's policies and programmes in a similar manner to Nadir. "We could always have disagreements about the best way to achieving them," he said. Stabroek News August 27th. 2006


Poll predicts landslide victory for Jagdeo -- says PPP/C likely to get majority in Parliament

THE New York-based NACTA group, which has accurately forecast previous elections results here and in the Caribbean, is predicting a landslide victory for the incumbent President Bharrat Jagdeo at Monday’s elections.

In a press release yesterday, it said its latest tracking poll shows Mr. Jagdeo “coasting to a landslide victory over his five opponents, leading his nearest rival by 21%.”

“The overwhelming majority of voters rate Jagdeo as the best among the six candidates vying for the presidency, saying the others are not viable alternatives to lead the country at this time”, NACTA said.

“Voters also show a strong likeness for Raphael Trotman of the AFC with two-thirds of the respondents saying they would prefer him to be Opposition Leader over Robert Corbin of the PNCR-1G. They describe Trotman as a decent politician with a promising future”, the release said.

NACTA said voters are also hoping that Mr. Jagdeo would “clean up” his administration by removing tainted ministers and other corrupt officials should he be re-elected.

The release said the poll, which was concluded Thursday, shows the PPP/C sweeping the rural areas and with the momentum on the side of the PPP/C, the party could increase its share of the popular votes.

“The PNCR is also doing well among its rural base. One should keep in mind that a poll is a portrait of voter preference at a particular moment and could change by elections day especially that the political situation is fluid. The actual outcome of the elections would depend on voter turnout”, NACTA noted.

NACTA is a New York-based group with no affiliation with any political party. It has been conducting polls in the Caribbean and elsewhere since 1989.

It said the latest survey was conducted to determine voter support for the parties and the findings are based on interviews systematically conducted over the last week with 746 respondents (344 Indians, 223 Africans, 105 Mixed, 65 Amerindians, and 9 others).

The survey was coordinated by Vishnu Bisram who has extensive experience in conducting research surveys and polls and who has worked on American elections in New York. The poll has a margin of error of 5%.

According to the findings of the survey, the PPP/C has picked up 3% support since Sunday and is in a dead heat with the other parties combined.

NACTA said the PNCR-1G is running second to the PPP/C while the AFC is trailing at a distant third.

But, it said, the AFC could hold the balance of power in Parliament should the PPP/C come up short of a majority of seats.

The other parties, ROAR-GAP, JFA, and TUF are trailing way behind in single digits.

The findings of the survey project the PPP/C with a little over 50% support, PNCR-1G 28%, AFC 15%, and the mini-parties the remainder.

With the margin of error, support for each party could vary up to 5% in either direction meaning, for example, that the PPP/C could garner up to 55% or as low as 45% popular support.

NACTA said the findings show that the PPP/C has lost some support among its traditional base, especially among young “educated” Indians and the business class who are switching their votes to the AFC.

“But the losses suffered by the PPP/C have been offset with gains among Africans and Amerindian voters. The PNCR has also lost significant support since 2001 to the newly formed AFC which is posing a strong challenge to the PNCR to replace it as the official opposition. Two-thirds of the voters say they would prefer the AFC over the PNCR to be the official opposition and half the respondents also indicate they would like to have a balance of power in parliament”, NACTA said.

But while many voters are willing to put their faith in “change”, a larger segment of the population is not willing to break from traditional ethnic voting pattern, it added.

The findings of the NACTA poll show the AFC has made significant inroads into the electorate, drawing support from both the PPP/C and PNCR but more from the latter.

But most of the AFC support, it said, is in the urban areas.

The Justice For All Party has also made gains since 2001 with the poll projecting it getting parliamentary representation as well as winning regional seats.

The other parties have lost ground to the PPP/C and AFC.

According to NACTA, the poll shows that the support that the AFC and JFA have drawn from the PPP/C could potentially deny the PPP/C winning a majority of seats in Monday’s elections. This could result in a balance of power in parliament leading to paralysis in passing bills or forcing cooperation among all the parties.

It said that with regards to the distribution of seats in the new parliament, the PPP/C is projected to win one geographic seat each in Regions 1, 2, 5, 7. It is also projected to get one seat each in Regions 8, 9 where it is leading and another seat is leaning towards the PPP/C in Region 10 where the PNCR is leading.

The PPP/C, it said, is projected to win three seats in Region 4 and two seats each in Region 3 and 6. The poll is projecting the PPP/C as winning in all regions except 10.

Altogether, the PPP/C could wind up to 14 of the 25 geographic seats. This coupled with up to 19 national top up seats could give the PPP/C 33 seats, the minimum required for a majority in parliament.

NACTA said the PNCR is projected to get one seat each in Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10. It is also expected to win 3 seats in Region 4 to give it a total of 10 geographic seats which when added to 8 top up national seats will give it 18 seats.

The AFC is projected to win one geographic seat in Region 4, it said, adding that no other party is expected to win any geographic seat.

In sum, the PPP/C is projected to win around 33 seats, the PNCR around 18, AFC around 9, and the other parties around 5 seats.

“One should keep in mind that the poll has a margin of error of 5% and there are still undecided voters whose preference would impact on the projected outcome of the poll.

It should also be noted that support has been changing hands among the parties in the last few days of the campaign. Switching of support is particularly pronounced between the AFC and the PNCR and as such either party could make gains at the expense of the other by elections day. Some voters also indicated that they will engage in split ticket as opposed to straight ticket voting. In other words, they will vote for different parties for parliament and regional representations. It would not be surprising, therefore, that a party will get more votes for regional council seats than for national parliamentary seats”, NACTA said. Guyana Chronicle August 26th. 2006


Jagdeo sees no power sharing

President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday in predicting his party's victory at the polls on Monday said his government would like to work with all the parties in a cooperation framework but sees no power sharing.

At a press conference the PPP/C hosted at Freedom House yesterday, Jagdeo said: "After the elections, we hope we could work with all the parties in a framework, not coalition, not a power-sharing Cabinet, but in an enhanced framework for cooperation."

If the opposition is to come on board, he said, they would have to subscribe to basic PPP/C government policies and programmes aimed at creating more jobs, providing better services, ensuring public safety, building a competitive economy and enhancing the country's image abroad.

"If you can't fit into that like Manzoor Nadir did, when he was offered a position in our cabinet... he had to subscribe to my programme. If you subscribe to those things then we could always have disagreements about the best way to achieving them. But we must settle on those objectives. We are uncompromising on our objectives of poverty reduction and wealth creation."

Meanwhile, independent polls as well as polls conducted by the PPP/C have indicated that the incumbent would win Monday's general elections but Jagdeo would not say by what margin except that "51% is important and anything above that is bonus."

Asked for his prediction on the outcome of the polls, he said that while the PPP/C would win the elections "the PNCR would emerge as the second largest party in Guyana after the PPP/C."

Referring to the AFC polls conducted by American pollster Dick Morris in association with the Mexican polling firm ARCOP, Jagdeo said that he finds it an act of desperation "when you have to publish your own poll as an advertisement."

The AFC, he contended, has been receiving a lot of help from "sympathetic persons including the Stabroek News and I make no bones about it..."

Asked whether the PPP/C would be prepared to work with opposition parties if the party wins the elections without a majority of the votes, Jagdeo responded: "I heard there has been a letter released by Mr (Vishnu) Bisram on an updated poll that Stabroek News is refusing to publish which shows the PPP/C winning a victory." He asked the Stabroek News reporters present whether this was so and whether they knew and advised that they should find out. Stabroek News Editor Anand Persaud last night said the newspaper had told Bisram that it would not be commissioning another tracking poll as it was too close to the elections. He said this decision was transmitted to Bisram before the results of the latest tracking poll were released yesterday. Persaud noted that the results of the last survey were published in Monday's edition and the newspaper believed that there should be no further publication of results in the week preceding the election.

Asked whether he would invite the opposition to assist in the country's development programme, Jagdeo said: "I am not asking for assistance, I am giving them a chance to contribute. I think we are capable alone of delivering the programme but it is always better when all the people of the country work together"

He said that in a new government the opposition would still be free to decide on those things they would want to subscribe to or not. "We would have to move aside from the old political culture of Guyana," that is opposing for opposing sake. He said that by implementing the outstanding constitutional reforms there would be enhanced collaboration be-tween the political parties because there would be more forums for discussions, debates and working things out.

And regarding the contentious advertisement 'The Great Pretender' Jagdeo announced that last night would be its last airing. He found it "very strange that the (referees panel of the) Media Monitoring Unit would try to influence the campaign. We are not fabricating these images," he said. "I said to our guys that we don't need that ad to win the elections so from tonight (last night) we are going to pull it. The booking is done until tonight and we are going to take it off the air. They can't hide from their track records."

While speaking about AFC presidential candidate Raphael Trotman being an unsuitable candidate because of his past association with the PNCR and linking him to past post-elections violence, Jagdeo said, "That's why 'The Great Pretender' is creating so much controversy."

On whether a PPP/C government would consider a truth and reconciliation commission after the elections because of allegations and the casting of blame on each other mainly by the PNCR and the PPP/C, Jagdeo responded in the negative.

He said: "No. In 1992, maybe we should have done that. Because we had 28 years of PNC rule through rigged elections. That is an established fact... No one disputes that." He said there were ten years of unaudited accounts to allow for personal enrichment and misuse of funds to sustain the PNC, no free press for a long time, but he maintained all of that has changed since. "A truth and reconciliation commission is 13 years late," he said.

Asked to comment on allegations of Guyana's economy being propped up by spin-offs of the narcotics trade given the fact that Guyana is a major drugs transshipment point, Jagdeo said that production has increased and per capita GDP has gone from under US$300 when the PPP/C took office to US$900.

He said that there has been nominal growth with aggregate deposits and national disposable income. The growth in aggregate deposits could be correlated with disposable income and could be accounted for, he said.

Referring to a number of public and private sector services being provided, he was doubtful that all the drivers of the economy came from drug proceeds.

However, he added, "there may be a few buildings and a few who are alleged to be drug traffickers and have extravagant lifestyles. But how much is that?

There is no one who has quantified it. I feel it is negligible given what I have said because I have traced the growth of aggregate savings to the growth in national disposable income and to growth in the economy... I don't deny there is some money laundering. That is why we have set up the financial intelligence unit," he contended.
Stabroek News August 26th. 2006


About 150 international observers on polling day

There will be at least 154 international observers on hand when voters go to the polls on Monday.

According to the list of international observers published yesterday by the Guyana Elections Commis-sion (GECOM), the Organisation of American States (OAS) will field the largest contingent with a 124-member mission headed by OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin. It will be the most extensive observer team the OAS has fielded in Guyana.

There will also be an 18-member Commonwealth mission, which is headed by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, a 10-member CARICOM mission headed by Hensley Robinson, and a special two-member European Union (EU) assessment team.

GECOM has established around 2,000 polling stations throughout the country for the elections.

Stabroek News has been told that the OAS team will attempt to cover polling stations in all ten regions.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said in a statement yesterday that the electoral process is being closely monitored and he expressed satisfaction with the steps taken to ensure transparent elections on Monday. Insulza said the decision to designate Ambassador Ramdin as the chief of the OAS mission indicated the high level of interest of the member states. "These elections represent a critical step in the country's political and democratic development and we believe the OAS can play an important role as an impartial observer," he explained. "Ambassador Ramdin has made several visits to Guyana in recent months and has been in permanent contact with the country's political leaders, electoral authorities and others involved in the process," he added. Insulza described the observer mission as the most extensive it has fielded in Guyana.

The OAS mission comprises three quarters of the international observers. Half of the mission will be made up of trained volunteers from locally-based diplomatic missions, including the US Embassy, USAID, IDB, DFID, the British High Commission, the Canadian High Commission and the European Union. The other members of the team have been arriving this week from various countries in the hemisphere.

Ambassador Ramdin arrived in Guyana on Tuesday and has met with representatives of the other missions as well as domestic observer groups. Today and tomorrow he will participate in training sessions for international and national observers. He has also had discussions with the authorities responsible for election planning and security, including officials from the Guyana Elections Commis-sion (GECOM), Minister of Home Affairs Gail Teixeira, Acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene and head of the army Brigadier General Edward Collins. Stabroek News August 25th.2006


Army on the streets on elections day

UNLIKE previous elections, the Army will Monday be patrolling the streets, performing civilian law enforcement duties as the government seeks to ensure peace during polling day and after, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon said yesterday.

Luncheon said in the past, the Army would usually be on standby and called out on the streets to help the Police quell disturbances.

But this year they will be on the road to serve.

Police Commissioner (ag) Mr. Henry Greene Monday told Georgetown businessmen that he could not comment on the Army’s role in the security planning for the elections.

Greene said the Guyana Police Force goes on full strength this week in preparation for elections day which will see a continuous Police presence at all polling stations and riot squads on standby in all divisions to deal with any disturbance.

The elections of 1992, 1997 and 2001 have been characterised by instability brought on by violent street protests. Guyana Chronicle August 23rd.


Elections to proceed -as CJ declines jurisdiction in two cases brought by PNCR executives

Chief Justice Carl Singh has declined jurisdiction in two lawsuits that sought to challenge the holding of general elections. He ruled yesterday that the law requires that such cases be presented in a petition after the elections.

The Chief Justice upheld preliminary submissions by Ralph Ramkarran SC, counsel for the Attorney General that the issues could only be heard and determined by a court exercising jurisdiction under Article 163 of the Constitution, which treats with questions about the lawful conduct of elections. "The result is that I therefore decline jurisdiction to hear these matters," he said in a judgement that was delivered yesterday.

The two cases involved PNCR executive Joseph Hamilton's challenge to the legality of a constitutional amendment that allowed for an extension of the election deadline, and Vincent Alexander's application for a ruling on whether the elections commission had a duty to ensure that all registrants on the voters' list were resident.

Rex McKay, SC, Miles Fitzpatrick, SC, and Basil Williams appeared for the applicants, while Ramkarran and others appeared for Attorney General Doodnauth Singh in both matters. Williams said last evening that his legal team is contemplating an appeal.

The Chief Justice, in his ruling, noted that Ramkarran's main submission was that the court should decline jurisdiction to hear the cases since the cases relate to the legality and validity of next week's elections and as such could only be heard and determined by a court exercising and special and exclusive jurisdiction under Article 163 of the Constitution. Ramkarran's submission's related to both cases.

Article 163 provides that the High Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to determine any question "whether generally or in any particular place, an election has been lawfully conducted or the result thereof has been, or may have been affected by an unlawful act or omission." Further, it says, "Parliament may make provisions with respect to the circumstances and manner in which and the conditions upon which proceedings for the determination of any question under this Article may be instituted in the High Court and an appeal may be brought to the Court of Appeal in respect thereof." In furtherance of this provision, the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act Chapter 1:04 provides that any question in respect of an election referred to in the Article and with a view to securing appropriate orders, be referred to the Court and shall thereupon be determined by it. Also, it says every such reference shall be by an election petition presented in accordance with the Act.

However, in response to Ramkarran's submissions, McKay and Fitzpatrick noted that the issue was not whether the election was validly conducted, rather, whether a purported alteration of the Constitution was valid. They said the question was embedded in the Constitution itself and in the constitutional responsibility of the court. They added that the issue precedes and overrides the limited exclusiveness of Article 163, and placed emphasis on the constitutionality of the Article 61 amendment.

However, Chief Justice Singh referred to the precedent set in two previous cases - Gladys Petrie and Others v The Attorney General (1968) and Seecomar Singh and Another v R.C. Butler (1973) - where former Chief Justice Sir Harold Bollers found that questions, including constitutional questions, touching the issue of whether an election has been lawfully conducted, falls within the limited and exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court as provided for by the Constitution and that such issues should be brought by way of an election petition.

The Chief Justice noted that in the case brought by Hamilton, his lawyers argued that they were not asking the court to interpret the constitution. Rather, they contended that they sought to find that a purported alteration of the constitution was invalid. The Chief Justice said he found this claim perplexing, given that Hamilton's claim sought a declaration that the Article 61 amendment was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void. "Such a declaration, I daresay, cannot be made, without an interpretation of the challenged Act and under relevant provisions of the Constitution." Moreover, he said in both cases it was not only the nature of the laws that were being challenged or the nature of the challenge which determine the factors of the jurisdiction. Instead, he said the remedies and answers being sought and their potential effect on the elections were vital and important factors. "It is obvious to me, as indeed it should be to anyone, that the relief sought by Hamilton and the questions posed by Alexander impact upon the question whether the election has been lawfully conducted. In my view, such a conclusion immediately brings into consideration the provisions of Article 163 of the Constitution," he concluded.

Hamilton's lawyers had also argued that the constitutional amendment was not passed within what the court considers the election period and as a result it could not have implications for questions about whether an election has been lawfully conducted. The Chief Justice disagreed, noting that, in the case of Hamilton, if the challenged law was declared unconstitutional, the legality of the election would be open to challenge. He added that, in the case of Alexander, if some procedure or requirement of the laws was not followed, it would follow that the question of whether the elections were lawfully conducted would be put in issue. Consequently, he said it was not a matter of any moment whether the law or laws was or were passed during the election period. "What would be of primary importance would be the effect of those laws upon the lawful conduct of the elections," he explained.

Singh noted that the lawyers for both sides did address the question of the validity of the Article 61 amendment and the consequences of it being struck down by the court for want of constitutionality, but in light of his findings he saw no need to examine these issues.

Meanwhile, taking judicial notice that that the electoral process had begun with the disciplined services balloting on Monday, he noted a comment by the Supreme Court of India, that advised against a High Court passing any orders, interim or otherwise, which might effect the postponement of an election that is reasonably imminent and over which its jurisdiction is invoked. "The… sentiments speak to a self-imposed limitation by the courts, in relation to election matters which are not without significance and relevance, given the fact, that in these cases, elections are not reasonably imminent but have actually begun," he observed. Stabroek News August 23rd.


NCN cameraman attacked at PNCR-1G meeting -station withdraws coverage

The National Communications Network (NCN) has pulled its coverage of PNCR-1G public meetings after reporting that a supporter of the group attacked a cameraman at an official function yesterday.

NCN announced last evening that all coverage of the coalition's public meetings and rallies has been withdrawn pending an assurance from the group's leadership that adequate protection would be given to both its human and material resources in the wake of the incident. This is the second such incident reported by the Network in the last month.

Stabroek News was unable to get a comment from the PNCR-1G last night.

According to the NCN statement, a cameraman filming a PNCR-1G meeting at Lodge was attacked by a woman. PNCR activist Juliana Gaul had just completed her presentation at the meeting when the attack is said to have occurred. The Network sad an irate woman charged the cameraman, shouting, 'we ain't want Channel 11 hey, we ain't want y'all.' It further said the shocked cameraman was then pounced upon by the woman, who allegedly scrambled a video camera, distorting the video image that was being captured at the time. Gaul intervened and prevented the woman from causing further damage to both the equipment and personnel, the statement added.

NCN said most of episode had been captured on video and would be supplied to the police force, the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting, the various observer groups, the elections commission's Media Monitoring Unit and the Independent Media Refereeing Panel.

NCN also recalled the previous attack at Linden, where a bottle was hurled at one of its reporters. The party subsequently said that an investigation revealed it was the driver of the NCN vehicle that provoked the attack - a response that the Network described as an "inadequate excuse" and an "an absolute lie." The company noted that such behaviour by party supporters lends little or nothing to the confidence of journalists when covering political events. Stabroek News


Polling to close 6 pm sharp -Surujbally

Guyana Elections Commis-sion Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally has said the close of poll on August 28 would not be extended beyond the 6 pm deadline.

"We have seen from bitter experience of the past that to allow such a possibility is to allow chaos and havoc," he told reporters at a news conference yesterday, where he gave an update on electoral preparations for the August 28 elections. He, however, explained that if persons are waiting in a queue to vote at closing time, the station would remain open to enable them to vote. The usual practice is that the presiding officer at the station would take the last name of the person in the line at the close of poll and a police officer would stand behind the voters to ensure that no other person is allowed to vote. Dr Surujbally said that the deadline would be maintained even in the event that the station opens late ad he refused to speculate on whether unforeseen circumstances could force an extended opening.

At the 2001 elections, many poll stations remained open beyond the official deadline, the result, in part, of a heavy voter turnout at the last minute as well as the incorrect placement of some electors.

The late closing of polls at the last elections was partially responsible for the delay in the availability of collated results, which were not issued until four days after. Dr Surujbally has so far stressed that the commission would try to ensure that results are available as early as possible but he is yet to commit to any specific timelines. He disclosed yesterday that the commission had received a methodology though he could not give details.

Dr Surujbally urged that electors take the necessary steps before election day to ensure that they know where they are to cast their votes. He noted that there will be almost 2,000 polling stations throughout the country. The 2006 official list of polling places is available on the commission's website, http://www.gecom.org.gy. Voters could also call the commission's hotline numbers, which are in the press. He added that political parties also have a vested interest in informing voters where they have to go to vote.

At the start of the press conference yesterday, Dr Surujbally joined in the condemnation of last Tuesday's attack on Kaieteur News, which resulted in the death of five people. He was of the view that the attack was orchestrated to sow fear among the citizenry and create disruption and disorder. He said it was not coincidental that it took place three weeks before the elections. In this vein, he called on voters to deny the attackers the satisfaction. "Turn out in large numbers of election day…" he said, adding, "do not succumb to terror. If voters stay away from the polling stations the criminals would have won."

Dry run

At present the commission is preparing for the holding of the August 19 non-residents poll and the August 21 disciplined services voting, which is being seen as a dry run for the general elections a week later.

Ballot papers, tally sheets and statement of poll forms printed by Code International in Canada arrived in the country by chartered aircraft on Sunday. The materials were then transported in a secure container by a police escort to the commission headquarters the same day. The commission secretariat conducted the sorting and shipping of all the materials required for balloting by non-resident electors and ballot officers and attendants had already been identified and gazetted. Non-resident electors are the diplomatic staff manning Guyana's foreign missions.

Sorting of ballot papers for the disciplined forces was also done on Monday and completed a day ahead of schedule on the electoral calendar. In excess of 8,000 members of the Guyana Defence Force, Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service will cast their ballots next Monday. Dr Surujbally explained that the envelopes containing the ballots would be placed in packets corresponding with the various geographic constituencies in the presence of political party agents. On election day these packets would be distributed to the respective constituencies. The packets would then be dispatched to one identified polling station in each district, as required by the law. Afterward, the ballots would then be removed from the envelopes by the presiding officer at the polling station without the identification of parties that received the votes. The ballots would then be stamped and placed in a ballot box to be mixed and counted with the ballots cast on polling day.

Dr Surujbally said that the appointment of polling staff is complete in all the electoral divisions except Region 4, where there has been a shortfall due to persons having dropped out at the last minute. He said that corrective action has been taken and new officials are already being trained. He added that there is an overage of polling day staff in most coastland districts who could and would be mobilised in other districts to make up for any shortfall on election day.

Polling day will see four domestic observers fielding teams as well as a host of foreign observers. GECOM has accredited the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB), the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC). Additionally, there will be international observers from the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States, the EU, Caricom and the Carter Center. Stabroek News August 17th. 2006


Sharma and Jagdeo lead in popularity in NACTA poll

An opinion survey conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association shows TV host C.N Sharma is the most likeable or popular among the candidates seeking the presidency but President Bharrat Jagdeo leads in electoral support.

Voters were asked if their opinion of six Presidential candidates were positive (favourable) or negative (unfavourable) or if they don't know enough of the person to form an opinion. The positive and negative rating of the politician is not the same as his approval rating for his job performance or his electoral support but rather how well he or she is liked (positive) or disliked (negative) by the population - the public's perception of a candidate. The favourablity rating of a candidate gives an indication of his electability.

High negatives and or low positives are not a good for a candidate suggesting he will not be elected.

The findings on political likeability of Guyanese politicians were obtained from a survey conducted over the last week to find out opinions on election related issues as well as to track voter support for the political parties.Â

NACTA is a New York-based organization with no affiliation with any political party. It has been conducting polls regularly in the Caribbean, North America, the Pacific and India.

NACTA interviewed 1238 respondents (569 Indians, 384 Africans, 186 Mixed, 87 Amerindians, and 12 others) to yield a demographically representative sample of the voting population. Respon-dents were polled randomly in intercept-contact interviews and asked specific questions. The poll was coordinated by Vishnu Bisram who has been conducting polls for over 15 years around the globe.

The findings of the poll have a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. This means that in theory results could vary up to 4% in either direction (up or down).

The findings show some of the Presidential candidates have relatively high positive ratings or negative ratings suggesting they are either well liked or not well liked. Analogously, some have relatively low negative ratings suggesting they are well liked or low positive ratings suggesting they are not so well liked.

Among the Presidential candidates, Justice For All party leader C.N Sharma has the highest favourable (positive) rating at 58% as well as the lowest unfavourable (negative) rating at 26%. President Bharrat Jagdeo of the PPP closely follows Sharma for likeability at 56% followed by Raphael Trotman of the AFC at 52% and TUF leader Manzoor Nadir whose positives stand at 47%. PNCR-OG leader Robert Corbin trails with a 37% positive rating followed by GAP-ROAR's Paul Hardy at 29%. Many people indicate they don't know much about Paul Hardy who is not a household name among Guyanese with many people saying they are not familiar with his name. Hardy would be wise to make his presence better known among the voters.

With regards to negative ratings, Corbin leads with the highest negatives at 48% followed by Nadir with 31%, Trotman with 30%, and Jagdeo with 29%. Sharma has the lowest negative ratings at 26% followed by Hardy with 28%. Looking at the positive ratings of the Presidential candidates, Sharma is only 2% more liked than Jagdeo who is 4% more liked than Trotman. But Jagdeo is 19% more liked than Corbin suggesting the latter will have serious difficulties in getting elected President.

Calculating the differences between the positives and negatives (net numbers) of the Presidential candidates, Sharma is in the lead with 32% followed by Jagdeo 27% providing further evidence of his dominance over the other candidates in the August 28 election. Trotman also has a high net rating of 22% with Corbin having a dismal net rating of negative 11% which is proof that voters prefer Trotman over Corbin as President. In fact, many voters say had Trotman been the leader and Presidential candidate of the PNCR, the party would have stood a better chance of defeating the PPP/C.

In rating Sharma as the most liked candidate, respondents (of all races) identify him with his popular TV programme "Voice of the People" which highlights problems people face and which also exposes government's deficiencies and shortcomings. Some respondents describe Sharma as "the Local Government Minister" for exposing problems communities face.Â

Some say "he leads and the government (or President Jagdeo) follows". Others say he does the work of all the Ministers and feel he should be paid a salary by the government for doing their job. While voters love the work of Sharma, not all of them are willing to elect him as President.

But most people feel Sharma should be sent to parliament where they feel he would do an excellent job addressing peoples' problems and helping to provide good governance. The general feeling is he is the only politician who does not want any "material returns" for serving in public office.

NACTA also interviewed respondents on how they plan to vote in the August 28 elections. The findings which were published by Stabroek News on August 11 showed the PPP/C with 45%, the PNCR-OG with 28%, the AFC with 15%, the JFAP with 5%, ROAR-GAP with 2%, the TUF 1% and undecided 4%. Stabroek News August 15th. 2006


Carter Center announces poll observer presence

The Carter Center announced on Thursday that it is organizing a small election observation presence for Guyana's upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on August 28.

The Center's small-scale observation team for the 2006 elections consists of a field office director and three medium-term observers, according to a release from The Carter Center.

The team will meet election officials, political party and civil society leaders, representatives of the international community, and other stakeholders and will analyze the campaign and electoral preparations in the final weeks before the elections.

Seven short-term observers will join the field team to assess election day and post-elections processes. The Carter Center will coordinate closely with other international election observation missions as well as domestic observation groups canvassing the country. Read more - Stabroek News


PNCR would be tough on crime - Corbin Suggests national reconciliation commission

By Miranda La Rose

A comprehensive programme that involves sound economic planning and the implemention of measures to address violent and white-collar crime along with the drugs trade are part of the PNCR-1 Guyana platform plans to deal with crime and security issues.

In an interview earlier in the week, Corbin told the Stabroek News that a PNCR-1 Guyana led government intended to be very tough on crime. He also said a national reconciliation commission should be set up to deal with any problems in the past.

The PPP/C government, he said, had "encouraged the rise in crime including the narco-trade in Guyana," which had damaged the economy so that legitimate exporters had been forced to compete with those using the country's export products for the smuggling of cocaine. Because of this local exporters were harassed and treated with suspicion, a disincentive for business. "Legitimate businesses cannot compete locally with businesses engaged in money laundering," he declared.

The use of Lotto funds at the level of the Office of the President in breach of the law, and white collar crime such as the dolphin scam in high places would not be condoned in a PNCR-1 Guyana administration, he said.

The crime reduction plan revealed since last year to key security operatives and a number of private organizations in Guyana, and which had since been refined with contributions from various areas, envisaged the restructuring of the GPF; better conditions of service and an increase in pay for policemen; an improved community policing capacity; the acceleration of advanced training for members of the security forces; and equipping them with resources to make them more effective.

Apart from strengthening the GPF, Corbin said that a PNCR-1 Guyana government would address the high unemployment in depressed communities which served as breeding grounds for juvenile delinquency and criminality. There were a number of social and economic programmes which would be set forth in the strategic plans the platform had developed and were included in the party's manifesto to be launched this coming week.

The programmes included village revitalisation with emphasis on sport and culture in the education system, an area the platform believed had been neglected by the PPP/C and the reason Guyana had not hosted any Carifesta activity since it was first held here in 1972. The current programme also encompassed a Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES).

Corbin went on to say that the comprehensive programme for economic development took into account the infrastructure needed to stimulate further development. This included a deep-water harbour in the Essequibo, an all-weather road from Georgetown to Brazil, instituting policies to stimulate investments, and putting in place infrastructure for information communications technology.

When asked if it was not a fair criticism to say that the PNCR in opposition was not effective, Corbin replied that the PNCR under the leadership first of Desmond Hoyte and then himself had exposed over the years the lack of good governance, abuse of the legal process, the absence of transparency and the lack of accountability by the Bharrat Jagdeo-led government. There was not much the opposition could do in the context of governance except expose the failings of the government such as the stone scam, the law book scandal, the wharf that floated away at Charity, and lack of supervision at the East Demerara Water Conservancy, resulting in massive floods and loss of livelihoods.

"What we need to ask is why after all this exposure the government has been so unresponsive to public opinion," he said.

The PNCR had also forced the government to investigate extra-judicial killings, ex-posed the question of the phantom/death squad killings and caused an enquiry to be held into the functioning of the disciplined forces, which had resulted in the establishment of a disciplined forces commission and 147 recommendations being made, which remained unimplemented.

Adverting to various areas in which the PNCR had offered its services to the government but had been rebuffed, Corbin went on to say that the improvement in parliament's functioning had come about because of the militancy of his party and its insistence on the implementation of the constitutional reforms agreed to prior to 2001.

The PNCR's boycott of parliament for a few months, though roundly criticized, he said, had brought "international attention to the reckless behaviour of the government and their failure to live up to their commitments." If the government wanted to boast of doing things on their own, he asked, why had they not implemented equitable access to the state media? "Elections are in another few days and in the first 100 days in government we would open the state media to equitable access to all parties including the PPP/C, and we would immediately approve licences for private radio stations in Guyana."

What were the major problems as the PNCR saw it? Based on surveys the party had conducted, Corbin said that the major preoccupations of Guyanese in order of priority were lack of jobs and job opportunities; crime and security; poor salaries; and non-inclusiveness in governance. The party had drafted plans to deal with these areas of concern.

Asked whether the PNCR should apologise for mistakes made and seek forgiveness from the Guyanese people, Corbin said there was a small group of people with access to the media who had harboured all kinds of grudges and misgivings while the PNCR was in office, and who were behind this call. Guyanese, he said, "are not troubled about that past; they are concerned about improving the quality of their lives. Putting pound for pound and experience for experience many of them recognize that whatever might have been the weakness of the PNC government, we did a far better job than the present Jagdeo administration."

Contending that the PNC had never said that it had made no mistakes, he said there was no government in office for five years that would not make mistakes; "The current government has been making colossal mistakes." He said all the decisions the PNC government had made were in the best interest of the people. In any institution in any part of the world there would be incidents which were unacceptable and were not condoned and measures had to be put in place to deal with them, but he did not think that the PNCR should apologise for them if they were not deliberate acts on the part of the government.

It was also debatable whether the millions of dollars spent trying to get the hydro-power project in the Upper Mazaruni under way to provide cheap power to unleash the country's economic potential, was a mistake. The plan was well conceived and the World Bank had initially agreed to fund the project, but there were a number of other political considerations that in the end stymied the project. "In the end we did not get all the funding for the project and a lot of our national resources were wasted in that direction. A lot of revenue earned when the prices of sugar were high were used."

Another mistake which he thought debatable was the scrapping of the railway line from Georgetown to Rosignol which could have been extended as far as the Rupununi. "I don't have a list of mistakes we made, but any government could have made mistakes," he said.

Speaking about the PNCR and post-elections protests and violence, Corbin said it was the failure of the elections commission to manage elections in a way that could avoid controversy and not the PNC which was the cause of the problem.

He reiterated his concerns about the current electoral process, and said that the court was still to determine the legality of some things that GECOM was doing. Where elections safeguards were concerned, the most he would say was that unlike previous commitments, he hoped GECOM would honour these, adding that, "so far nothing that GECOM has promised the opposition parties has been honoured."

He said the PNCR-1 Guyana platform would reject the election result if there were any serious breaches of the law, and if the 78,000 names which should not be on the list were represented by voters on election day. "We are going to be vigilant. We were trying to limit the loopholes for manipulation. The scope is there for fraud," he said.

Asked to comment on the view that he had been deemed by some as not electable "because of baggage associated with the barge fiasco and the rigging of elections," Corbin said he does not know of any politician who has been in politics as long as he had who would not be subject to some criticism for some activity in the past. "I defy anyone who says that I am not electable," he said adding, "I am very popular in many communities. I have experienced that popularity… that euphoria, particularly among young people."

On the issue of the barge, he said the inquiry found no impropriety on his part. The barge with four generators was imported by the (then) Guyana Electricity Corpora-tion when he was deputy prime minister responsible for utilities. He could not recall any money paid for the barge so there could be no room for irregularity, fraud, misappropriation of funds which was the propaganda of the PPP, he said. The problems with the initial start-up were on account of exposure to open air crossing the Atlantic. Corbin said, "Because of the situation at the time (which included long periods of load-shedding) there were all kinds of propaganda. The engines on the barge worked and when I last checked, one of the 1.5 megawatts engine was still working."

On rigging elections, he said, "I don't know that I could be accused of manipulating a process that I was not in charge of. My job, as party campaign manager was to mobilise as many votes [as possible] for the party. I thought I did that effectively."

On the PNCR-1 Guyana policy on governance, Corbin said that inclusive/shared governance was intended to include many stakeholders in the decision-making process to allow for common programmes, which were beyond controversy and were key to Guyana's development. "The One Guyana Movement invites all parties to be a part of that. While all might now have formed electoral alliance[s] we still believe there is room after the elections for a government of national unity that would involve stakeholders." He said, "The challenge facing Guyana is one for the future. It is a waste of time for people to harp on the past and to think that those propaganda lines of the past would help to forge a future."

Any problems in the past, he said, should go to a process of national reconciliation. "Let us not make it a political matter where anyone who participated in the political process is above reproach, or we would have to answer for many things, the Sun Chapman tragedy, the burning of cane fields, burning of buildings, the killing of the Abrams family, among many other incidents. We can go into our past and rake out a whole lot of things that cry out for explanations and reconciliation. One way of dealing with this is not to ask one party to explain but to have a national reconciliation commission and resolve these issues that affect ethnic harmony in Guyana. We are all in one boat and unless we deal with the ethnic divisiveness and submerge those in the interest of Guyana, we are all doomed." Stabroek News August 13th. 2006


Small parties hold balance of power - NACTA poll PPP 45%, PNC 28%, AFC 15%

The latest tracking opinion poll conducted last week by the NACTA polling organization shows President Bharrat Jagdeo winning the Presidency by a landslide over his opponents but the mini-parties will hold the balance of power in the new parliament. The poll shows the PPP/C, Alliance for Change (AFC), and GAP-ROAR have made gains since a similar poll conducted a month ago. The NACTA poll is projecting a loss of seats since the 2001 elections for both the PPP and PNC with the beneficiaries being the AFC and the JFA parties.

NACTA is a New York-based group with no affiliation with any political party.

It has been conducting polls in the Caribbean and elsewhere since 1989 and has developed a reputation for being on target in its predictions. The latest survey was conducted to determine voter support for the parties. The findings are based on interviews systematically conducted in early August with 1238 respondents (569 Indians, 384 Africans, 186 Mixed, 87 Amerindians, and 12 others).

The survey was coordinated by Vishnu Bisram*.

According to the findings of the survey, the ruling PPP/C has picked up 3% support since NACTA's poll in July. The AFC and GAP-ROAR have also made some gains whereas the PNC has lost 1% support from a month ago.

The findings of the survey show the PPP leads the PNC 45% to 28% with the AFC garnering 15%, JFAP 5%, GAP-ROAR 2%, and TUF 1% (all figures rounded off).

The poll has a margin of error of 4% meaning that support for each party could vary up to 4% in either direction. The combined opposition leads the PPP/C 51% to 45% which is a statistical tie given the margin of error. Four percent of voters are still undecided.

It should be noted that when voters were asked which party they think will win the elections, 61% of the respondents said they think the PPP will win a plurality with 34% saying they think the PPP will win an absolute majority. With regard to how the parties receive their support, the electorate remains racially polarized with Indians rallying around the PPP and ROAR whereas Africans and Mixed rally around the PNC. GAP and TUF get almost all of their support from Amerindians whose vote is split amongst other parties as well. The JFA gets its support from amongst all the races. The PPP receives more support from among Africans and Mixed than the PNC gets among Indians.

Both the PPP and PNC have suffered defections from among disgruntled supporters with the bulk of them going to the AFC which is also attracting a significant number of new voters. Some PPP supporters have indicated that they will vote for ROAR and the JFAP (which is attracting the poorer classes among Indians and Africans).

Respondents blame both the PPP and PNC for the many problems the nation is facing. The PNC, in particular, is blamed for the spurt in criminal activities with a majority of voters linking the party with criminal elements in the Buxton area. Many professional and middle class Africans express disenchantment with the political direction of the PNC. They don't think Robert Corbin is electable as President and would have preferred Winston Murray or Vincent Alexander as the party's Presidential candidate. Some of them are voting for the AFC and PPP/C which is attracting increasing cross-racial support that could bring it closer to the majority mark.

The findings show that Raphael Trotman has significant support among the Indian business and professional classes and young urban voters (of all ethnic groups) but does not have a significant following among the PPP or PNC rank and file supporters. Trotman's likeability among all ethnic groups is transferring into support for the AFC.

The survey shows a majority of voters like Jagdeo but they don't like Ministers around him and this is the main reason why he is struggling to win a majority of seats. But supporters of the PPP say that overall the PPP government has performed better than when the PNC was in government with many of them regurgitating aspects of PNC's misrule during the 28 years it was in office. Many voters like the work Sharma has been doing on his TV station highlighting people's problems and this is the main reason given why they are voting for him.

It is important to note that a poll is a portrait of voter support only at a particular period of time and inevitably changes over time. The poll concluded three weeks before Election Day. Thus, political fortunes could shift by then as it did over the last month.

About The Pollster*

Vishnu Bisram is Director of Polling of NACTA and an educator in New York. He is also "a political analyst and newspaper columnist". He has worked on several American Presidential, gubernatorial, City Council, NY State legislative, Congressional, and mayoral elections in New York.

He has extensive experience in writing and conducting research surveys and polls and analyzing politics. He has travelled extensively around the globe.


The election campaign

By and large the election campaign has so far been conducted by the political parties soberly and in keeping with the practices in democratic countries. Inevitably there have been the hired buses which bring supporters in from elsewhere to inflate the crowd (one observer says he saw some parked in a nearby street at one meeting) and the well known musical bands which are there to entertain and attract people who might not otherwise come, thus giving an unfair advantage to the party with the biggest campaign budget which can hire the best band. These practices have almost become par for the course in Guyanese elections, abuses that go back to the Burnham era. But if you discount this the politicians on the hustings have expounded their parties' policies. There has been some negative campaigning but it has not dominated the speeches at the meetings we have seen. That is commendable and it must be hoped it will continue.

We have also not observed or heard of any attempts to disrupt meetings. There have been one or two unfortunate incidents at meetings when journalists were harassed but it was good to see that there was a response when a complaint was made which indicated that the complaint had been taken seriously. We also thought that Mr Corbin made an important point when he said that incidents should not be too readily attributed to other parties as distinct from individuals who may have acted on their own volition as this can easily and unnecessarily exacerbate the situation.

If the campaign continues in this manner for the remaining two weeks one would have to describe it as the most open and democratic campaign since the 1964 election.

Mr Bisram's polls also suggest that the results of the elections could open up a new political landscape. Though the PPP/C seems likely to win the presidency with the largest vote of a single party, a plurality, which would entitle it to form the executive government, there is a chance that it will not obtain a majority of the seats in parliament. This loss of control of the legislative assembly would mean that to govern effectively it would have to enter into an arrangement, perhaps a coalition, with the People's National Congress Reform or the Alliance for Change to give it a majority in parliament. This would probably also entail some form of executive power sharing and the allocation of ministries to that party as the price for a coalition. The party not in the coalition and the other small parties that obtained seats would form the opposition.

The dreadful slaughter on Tuesday night has of course cast a dark shadow on the horizon. Was that incident election related, is it an omen of things to come from that quarter? Violent incidents of that nature always have the capacity to disrupt the course of events, even though they may only reflect the thinking of a small minority which has its own agenda. Stabroek Editorial August 11th


GECOM plays up no-skulduggery safeguards -heightened security for vulnerable poll stations

By Andre Haynes

Elections Commission Chair-man Dr Steve Surujbally yesterday laid out a menu of steps aimed at thwarting skulduggery at the upcoming polls and he assured that there would be an extra police presence at polling stations vulnerable to incidents of intimidation.

Dr Surujbally told a news conference that the police would be present at all polling stations on election day to ensure that the process is conducted lawfully, as part of the safeguards promised by the Guyana Elections Commis-sion (GECOM) to prevent electoral fraud. He explained that he had been liaising with acting Police Commissioner Henry Greene and was very enthused with his eagerness to ensure protection at polling stations. "I am quite confident about his capability to ensure police presence," he said. In addition to the police presence at the stations, there will also be security at the commission headquarters and annexes.

During the last week, the commission met with the 10 contesting parties and outlined the protections that would be in place to prevent multiple voting and other fraud.

Among the measures has been the introduction of paid party agents - from the ruling party and the combined opposition - who would be present at each polling station.

Dr Surujbally noted that the party agents would be present at all polling stations to observe the entire voting process, including the identification of voters and the staining of their finger with indelible ink. He added that the agents could also challenge potential electors if there is a belief that there is an attempt at deception and the persons could be arrested immediately.

With lingering fears that party agents could be terrorised into leaving the station prematurely, he also assured that there would be police ranks on hand. He added that parties could assist the commission by identifying stations they suspected would be vulnerable.

At the same time, he said it would be advisable for parties to choose persons who might not put their tails between their legs and run when choosing agents. Added to that, he noted that there would also be domestic and international observers present at the stations, including the Electoral Assistance Bureau, the Guyana Bar Association, the Guyana Public Service Union, the Private Sector Commission, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States, the Carter Center, as well as other support from the EU and the Donor Community. Moreover, Dr Surujbally called upon parties to exhort their members and supporters against any attempt to thwart the process and he repeatedly said that anyone trying to defraud the process would be arrested. He said it would be embarrassing for the parties as well as inimical to their own interests.

Polling day

On elections day there will be about 1,990 polling stations set up around the country.

Dr Surujbally said the figure is a significant increase over the 1893 for the 2001 polls and he noted that it would result in none of the stations having to cater to more than 450 electors. He said the increased number of stations would accommodate the higher number of registered electors, while providing improved voting conditions.

At the stations, electors would have their faces compared with their photographs on the voters' list to confirm their identity before being allowed to cast their ballots. Also, the right index finger of every voter would be stained with indelible ink. Before electors are allowed to vote their fingers would be checked for traces of the ink.

Dr Surujbally noted that in the past paper napkins available at stations were used to wipe off the ink after the fingertips had been stained, rather than for their intended purpose - to remove oil or vaseline or other agents people placed on their fingers to remove the ink. Dr Surujbally said that the officers will ensure that the ink is air dried. He also said that in the past some persons had claimed to be able to completely remove the ink. "This will not be possible at the 2006 elections because the indelible ink to be used is of such improved strength that, no matter how hard one tries, one cannot completely wash it off".

Another first for the elections will also be transparent ballot boxes at the stations, allowing the contents to remain in view of stakeholders, including party agents and observers.

Dr Surujbally stressed that the transparent boxes would not allow anyone to view the ballot before counting.

In relation to concerns about the names of absent or deceased electors appearing on the official voters' list, Dr Surujbally was confident that having photographs on the list would prevent persons voting in their absence. He explained that persons or parties attempting to deceive the process would have to get the names of the deceased or absent electors, then mobilise substitute voters to match their details and deploy them countrywide. He noted that these "substitute" voters would also have to vote for themselves and would have to remove the indelible ink stained unto their fingers. Additionally, they would also have to present genuine ID cards as part of the plot.

On the question of displaced electors, Dr Surujbally acknowledged that there have been cases where persons have been listed to vote in electoral divisions other than those in which they live. This has been an occurrence that has been a big concern for political parties. He said that the commission developed and implemented a strategy aimed at ensuring that every elector is correctly listed on the 2006 official list.

The implementation of this strategy resulted in the identification of 1,491 entries. Dr Surujbally said that the majority of the cases occurred where electoral subdivisions were in close proximity to each other and he cited Sophia as an example, noting that the boundaries between the fields are indistinct.

Dr Surujbally did not give any specifics about the availability of the elections results. He noted that the logistics are still being worked out but said a delay must not occur.

He added that there could be any number of things beyond the control of the commission, and he mentioned the damaging and stealing of telephone cables as an example. However, he explained that in the event that results cannot be telephoned, faxed or radioed in, there would be vehicles on standby to transport the data immediately and the commission has been doing tests to determine how fast the data could be relayed in this manner.

Surujbally also pointed out that GECOM has launched a voter education campaign aimed at apprising electors of their rights and responsibilities and to dissuade them from engaging in any chicanery.

"GECOM is making it known clearly that it is committed to having persons, if they are found to be engaging themselves in any of the electoral offences, promptly arrested", Surujbally asserted. Stabroek News August 9th. 2006


'Best ever' elections -- GECOM head promises

By Mark Ramotar

CHAIRMAN of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr. Steve Surujbally yesterday reassured that everything is on track in the committed efforts by the commission to not only meet the August 28 poll date but also ensure the 2006 elections would be the “best ever” in Guyana’s history.

Surujbally, at a news conference at GECOM headquarters in Georgetown, gave a comprehensive outline of the safeguard mechanisms that would be in place to, among other things, prevent multiple voting, other forms of skulduggery and any potential for dissatisfaction on elections day.

RETURNING Officers tasked with overseeing the upcoming August 28 elections, to choose a President and elect 65 members to the National Assembly and members of the Regional Democratic Council of each region of Guyana, yesterday posted the list of eligible voters at their respective offices in each of the 10 polling districts. The display of the lists, along with a notice of poll done yesterday as well, was in keeping with the statutory requirement for the conduct of an election. Here, a resident of Queenstown, Georgetown, peruses the list which was on display at the office of the Returning Officer (District Four-Demerara/Mahaica) located at the Rising Sun Mini Mart on Forshaw Street. (Photo by Delano Williams)

He also warned that anyone or any political party that tries to cheat or indulge in any form of skullduggery during the elections “will be caught”. Persons caught will be prosecuted in court and if found guilty, jailed or fined, or both, and possibly even banned from voting at future elections, he said.

The GECOM Chairman reported that the Official List of Electors (OLE) is in the process of being printed while the first batch of the special ballot papers being printed in Canada should be arriving in Guyana by this weekend.

Surujbally also lashed out at misleading reports in certain sections of the media which he said serve to bismirch the reputation of GECOM and discredit the unwavering commitment, dedication and hardwork by the staff of the commission in working towards ensuring that free and fair elections of internationally accepted standards are held on August 28.

“At this stage of our preparations we are in the homestretch, we are heading for the tape (and as such) we cannot afford this drivel that is being published…,” he declared.

Referring to his team at GECOM, he posited: “This is a team of people - the best that you have in Guyana running the electoral process with great sleepless nights, making the effort but then we see publications which are in fact the quintessence of wretchedness and wickedness epitomising and misrepresenting matters – the zenith or, perhaps, I should say the nadir of reprehensibility.”

Alluding to a grossly misleading story which appeared in another newspaper yesterday, Surujbally said he would blame the editor for passing such irresponsible reporting and again appealed to media houses to be responsible in their reports.

Despite this, the GECOM Chairman said everything else is on track and told reporters to “damn me afterwards” if the elections are not the “best ever” to be held in Guyana.

Among the safeguards outlined by the GECOM Chairman aimed at preventing multiple voting, other forms of skulduggery and any potential for dissatisfaction on elections day were:

** Identification of the Voter: Surujbally noted that before an elector is allowed to vote, he/she will be properly identified as the person he/she claims to be.

To facilitate this, he said GECOM has placed electors’ photographs alongside their names on the folio at the polling stations. When an elector goes to the polling station to vote, an election official will first look at his/her face and compare it with the photograph on his/her ID card.

The election official will then compare the photograph on the ID card with the one alongside the elector’s name on the voters’ list to confirm that he/she is the same person.

If the official is satisfied that the elector is who he/she is claiming to be, he/she will then be processed for voting. Surujbally said on the other hand, if any divergence is noted, the elector will be subjected to questioning, and possibly, be arrested immediately.

** The use of indelible ink: The GECOM Chairman spoke at length on this safeguard mechanism and noted that in the voting process, electors will be required to dip the first joint of their right index fingers in indelible ink.

In the past, some persons had claimed to be able to completely wash off the indelible ink from their fingers but Surujbally said this will not be possible at the 2006 elections because the indelible ink to be used is of such improved strength that, no matter how hard one tries, one cannot completely wash it off.

Further, the wet ink on their finger tips will not be wiped off as has been the practice in past elections, he said, adding that before electors are allowed to vote, their fingers will be examined for traces of indelible ink. If traces of indelible ink are found on an elector’s fingers, it will be presumed that he/she had already voted and will not be allowed to vote again. Subsequently, he/she will be subjected to questioning, and possibly, be arrested immediately.

** Party agents: Surujbally said political party agents will be at the polling stations throughout the elections process on elections day to witness the physical identification of voters and the examination of their hands for traces of indelible ink. He further explained that if a party agent has good reason to believe that the potential elector is not the person he/she claims to be, or that he/she has already voted, the party agent can bring this to the notice of the Presiding Officer. This will result in the potential elector being questioned, and possibly, being arrested immediately.

** The presence of security personnel from the Guyana Police Force: The GECOM Chairman yesterday reiterated the assurances given by President Bharrat Jagdeo that ranks from the Guyana Police Force will be present at all polling stations throughout elections day to assist the Presiding Officers in ensuring that the elections process is executed in a lawful and orderly manner.

In addition, he said personnel from the Disciplined Services (Army and Police) will be stationed at GECOM headquarters and at all GECOM annexes.

Surujbally also alluded to the ‘feeling’ - real or imagined - that political party agents can be terrorised into leaving the polling stations prematurely. 𠇊t those polling stations where there is the possibility (real or perceived) of the bullying/terrorising of party agents, Police ranks will be present in such numbers as to negate this possibility,” the GECOM Chairman asserted.

He urged political parties to assist GECOM in identifying such vulnerable polling stations and to place agents of such calibre that they would resist any intimidation.

** Voter education: Holding up a specimen brochure at the news conference, Surujbally told reporters the commission has embarked on a highly publicised voter education campaign aimed at informing electors about their rights and responsibilities as voters, and to dissuade them from becoming involved in skulduggery.

Emphasis, he said, has been placed on the reasons why electors should not become involved in the conduct of any of the listed electoral offences and the penalties associated with those offences.

“GECOM is making it known clearly that it is committed to having persons, if they are found to be engaging themselves in any of the electoral offences, promptly arrested,” the Chairman warned. According to him, it is expected that this campaign will discourage persons from attempting to engage in multiple voting or other forms of skulduggery.

** Efficient conduct of the polls: During the training of Returning Officers, Presiding Officers and all other levels of polling day staff, Surujbally said emphasis was placed on the need for them to always carry out their respective responsibilities in a manner that will not cast any shadow of doubt on the elections process and the emerging results.

GECOM has emphasised that polling day staff would be held accountable, even prosecuted, for any irregularity which could result in the outcome of the elections being besmirched, he told reporters.

** Absent electors/deceased electors: Surujbally stressed that deceased electors whose names are possibly still on the voters’ list cannot and will not present themselves to vote. According to him, the photographs on the folios at each polling station will preclude anyone from trying to vote in the place of deceased electors.

So too will be the case of registered electors who are out of Guyana on elections day. Other persons will be unable to vote on their behalf simply because of the photographs against the electors’ names in the folio.

** Counting of ballots at place of poll: As provided for by law, Surujbally said ballots cast will be counted at the respective places of poll and each Presiding Officer will sign the Statement of Poll.

Surujbally said each party agent present will also sign as an attestation that he/she is satisfied with the counting and recording of the votes. Thereafter, the Presiding Officer will publicly declare the results of the elections at his/her polling station; give a signed copy of the results to each party agent; and post the results at a noticeable place at the polling station.

** Domestic and international observers: Surujbally also alluded to the many domestic and international observers who have been accredited by GECOM and who will be monitoring the elections process countrywide with a view to contributing to it being conducted in accordance with international best practice.

Domestic observers include the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB), the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC).

The international observers will include the Commonwealth Long/Short Term Observer Missions, the Organisation of American States (OAS) Long/Short Term Observer Missions, the European Union Assessors, the two Joint International Technical Assessors (JITAs), members of the Diplomatic Community in Guyana, CARICOM and possibly, a European Union Parliamentary Mission and one from the Carter Center.

** Assistance from political parties: Surujbally said the commission would like to call on all political parties and other social/civic organisations to appeal to their respective supporters and members not to attempt in any way to thwart the successful conduct of the elections by attempting to vote more than once, or from acting in any manner which could impede the successful conduct of the elections.

In this regard, he said all political parties and other social and civic organisations are invited to caution their supporters and members that any attempt to do so would result in them being immediately arrested and prosecuted.

** Transparent ballot boxes: He contended that the transparency of the voting process will be buttressed by the use of transparent ballot boxes that have been procured specifically with this objective in mind.

This move will guarantee that the contents of the ballot boxes are always in view of all categories of personnel and stakeholders having access to the almost 2,000 polling stations across Guyana.

Surujbally told reporters that there will be some 1,990 polling stations across Guyana for the August 28 polls, a significant increase compared to the 1,893 polling stations for the 2001 elections.

As a result of the increase in the number of polling stations for the 2006 elections, none of them will have to cater to more than 450 listed electors. Contrastingly, at the 2001 elections, more than 500 electors were registered to vote at some polling stations, the GECOM Chairman said.

Also at the news confernce yesterday were several international observers here for the upcoming elections.


PM blasts Stabroek News reporting

By Mark Ramotar

VISIBLY angry and declaring how “very pained and hurt” he was, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds yesterday launched an un-characteristic scathing attack on the Stabroek News newspaper for abusing press freedom by its reckless and politically biased “pavement journalism” aimed at creating division in Guyana rather than fostering unity among Guyanese.

The Prime Minister also accused the privately-owned newspaper of, through its “gutter journalism”, attempting to create a schism to divide Indo-and Afro-Guyanese, something he said is “extremely disturbing” with the potential to “push us back” to the racially turbulent period of the 1950s and 60s.

He also appealed to the Independent Media Refereeing Panel, international observers and representatives from the donor missions here for the upcoming elections to “pay attention to this kind of reckless reporting, abuse of press freedom and violation of the media code of conduct by (the) Stabroek News and others” which are designed to unfairly ridicule the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).

The wrath unleashed by the Prime Minister at a news conference at the PPP/C media centre at Freedom House was triggered by a report in the Stabroek News yesterday which described the PPP/C’s grand rally at Linden on Sunday evening as “a gathering of around 300 persons”.

Noting that there were at least 3,000 people at the PPP/C Linden rally, Mr. Hinds told reporters that the party is disappointed but not surprised by this misleading report in the Stabroek News.

“Our rally in Linden, despite threats and intimidation meted out to activists and the act of provocation by the PNCR-1G (People’s National Congress Reform-One Guyana) to hold its rally at the same time and date in Linden after it learnt of our event, could not prevent more than 3,000 Lindeners and Region Ten residents from attending,” he declared.

“But I feel personally very pained by this representation by the Stabroek News of some 300 people attending. It creates a suspicion in one’s mind that Stabroek News or whoever is giving this report and whoever is responsible for it that they want to perpetuate this feeling that Afro-Guyanese would not come out and support the People’s Progressive Party,” the Prime Minister said.

According to him, it becomes a greater pain when one looks back at Guyana’s turbulent history fuelled by the racial division created among Indo and Agro-Guyanese, and the committed efforts and strides that have since been taken to reunite the people.

The Prime Minister, who hails from the Linden mining town, believes there are elements within Stabroek News who promote racial animosity among Indo and Afro-Guyanese.

“I feel very strongly that no doubt there are elements within the Stabroek News…who are adding and contributing to the difficulties between Blacks and Indians in Guyana.”

“I feel even more pained now that they should, maybe to cover their own sense of guilt, want to paint the picture that Afro-Guyanese would not support the PPP,” he said.

“One may wonder too that in their own support of the AFC (Alliance For Change) and the promotion of the AFC as the party that wants to go beyond race, that again the success that this government is gaining from its programmes and the implementation of its programmes over the last 14 years, that this success is disturbing to them and they seem to be ready to go to any end to deny it and even to push us back…to create a schism to divide the people (and) I feel very strongly, extremely strongly, about this.”

“That a gathering there in Linden that was at least 3,000 could be represented in the papers as 300; I think that it is a great cost to us. It cost us quite a lot what took place in the 50s and 60s and it could cost us quite a lot once more…,” the Prime Minister posited.

He stressed the ‘pain’ and the ‘hurt’ he is feeling at this sort of reporting, especially at a time when the PPP/C is making a significant breakthrough and getting success in “having more and more Afro-Guyanese viewing the PPP/C, not in emotional terms as an Indian party” but rather as a party judged on its performance and what it has done in the past and plans to do in the future to better the lives of all Guyanese.

One of the two Stabroek News reporters at the news conference yesterday indicated to the Prime Minister it was unfair of him to make such a general accusation of the newspaper since it was ‘a one-off incident’. The reporter also hinted that, like the observations in a recently released report by the Independent Media Refereeing Panel, the Prime Minister, and the PPP/C, might be ‘over-reacting’.

But the Prime Minister asserted: “I am overreacting because the groups of people from the 50s and 60s, the fairer group of people and the upper class, who contributed to Afro-Guyanese behaving the way they did to Indo-Guyanese over all these years. They prompted and pushed the Afro-Guyanese to do it and then they sat back and criticized it and they seem to be wanting to do the same thing (again).”

“So I am very hurt and I am very pained about it,” he stressed, adding “we have done it and we can do it again, bring the people out of Linden in large numbers”.

“If you put down that there (are) only 300 people when there (are) at least 3,000…then you want to create the message that Afro-Guyanese cannot see Indo-Guyanese in any other way but the way they are painted by the Stabroek News and other groups.”

“And I must get mad comrade, I must get mad, I must get mad about it. It is not a simple mistake…it has to be done with a purpose and it has cost this country a hell of a lot in the past and I won’t sit by and let it cost this country again,” the Prime Minister lashed out.

Mr. Hinds said in the event of there being riots in the streets, traditional during an elections period, then some of the blame should be shouldered by the Stabroek News.

He also said yesterday’s report by the Stabroek News was merely a repeat of the malicious and reckless journalism exhibited in its edition two Thursdays ago.

He said “the Stabroek News in that bout of pavement journalism” accused the PPP/C of paying persons $3,000 to participate in the party’s Nomination Day activities.

The Independent Media Refereeing Panel appointed by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said the report was “reckless and unsubstantiated”. Chronicle - August 8th. 2006


Poll lists go up today

By Wendella Davidson

TODAY is the 20th day before Elections Day and in keeping with the statutory requirements, Returning Officers in each of the 10 polling districts countrywide will post a notice of poll indicating the date and time for the elections.

The notice will read “Take notice that a poll will be held on the 28th day of August 2006 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., to elect the 65 members of the National Assembly and members of the Regional Democratic Council of each region of Guyana. The situation of each polling place in the 1 to 10 polling district and the names of the electors who are entitled to vote is attached.”

It will be displayed at each of the 10 offices where the returning officers will be stationed, according to a Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) source.

Today, too, a list of all eligible voters for the August 28 poll, to choose a President, members of the National Assembly from the 10 geographical constituencies and the National Top-Up List and members of the Regional Democratic Councils, will also be displayed at the offices of the Returning Officers in each of the 10 polling districts.

In addition, political parties contesting the elections will today each receive copies of the lists of candidates as approved by the commission, along with copies of the polling places in each of the 10 districts.

According to the source, a copy of the notice of poll and list of electors will also be posted at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) headquarters.

The 10 Returning Officers appointed on July 14 last, after rigorous training and evaluation, will be assisted by Deputy Returning Officers and supervisors as the need warrants, along with polling day staff on August 28.

GECOM has approved 10 political parties to contest the national and regional elections.

They are District One - Barima/Waini; Two – Pomeroon/Supenaam; Three – West Demerara/Essequibo Islands; Four – Demerara-Mahaica; Five – Mahaica/Berbice; Six – East Berbice/Corentyne; Seven – Cuyuni–Mazaruni; Eight - Potaro/Siparuni; Nine – Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo and District 10 – Upper Demerara/Berbice.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has as its presidential candidate Bharrat Jagdeo; for the People’s National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G) Robert Corbin is the presidential candidate; the Alliance for Change (AFC) has Raphael Trotman; for the Justice For All Party (JFAP) it is Chandra Narine Sharma; Guyana Action Party/Rise,Organise and Rebuild (GAP/ROAR) is with Paul Hardy as the presidential candidate and The United Force (TUF) has Manzoor Nadir as the presidential candidate.

These six parties are the only ones contesting the geographic constituencies which qualify them for the national elections, thus their entitlement for a presidential candidate.

The remaining parties are the Guyana National Congress (GNC) with Samuel Hamer as its representative; Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) with Akeem Cave; National Democratic Front party (NDF) with Joseph Bacchus and People’s Republic Party (PRP) with representative Aubrey Garnett.

The incumbent PPP/C, the PNCR-1G; TUF and newcomers AFC will all contest both the national and regional elections in all 10 polling districts; GAP/ROAR will contest the national elections in all nine geographic constituencies and in nine. The exception is District Five.

JFAP will also contest nine geographical and nine regional with the exception of District Eight.

The GNC will contest in Districts Four and Five; Liberal Democrats in District Four; NDF only in District 10 and PRP in Districts Five and Seven.

Meanwhile, yesterday, employees at the elections commission were busy putting together non-essential items, including transparent ballot boxes – to be used for the first time during elections in this country, and lamps for transporting to all the Returning Officers. Chronicle - August 8th. 2006


Major parties go to traditional opposition stronghold

By Chamanlall Naipaul

The mining town of Linden was transformed into a political spectacle last Saturday as political heavyweights---People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and People’s National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G)--- squared off with their respective elections campaign rallies.

Both rallies attracted large gatherings in what has been a traditional stronghold of the PNCR as the elections campaign gains momentum. President Bharrat Jagdeo greets his supporters at Linden

Enthusiastic and jubilant supporters of Guyana’s largest two political movements donned tee-shirts depicting their leaders and party symbols and moved to music and jingles which were abundant at both meetings.

The battle lines were drawn along the Wismar River with the PPP/C rally being held at Burnham Drive and its counterpart holding theirs at the bus park of the Mackenzie Market square.

The presence of security personnel was very evident at the meetings, but personnel of state owned television-NCN-Channel 11 complained of being harassed by a mob of about 30 to 40 persons as they were attempting to cover the march by the PNCR-1G in the vicinity of the Washer Pond area. Consequently, they withdrew from giving coverage for that party’s rally.

Editor-in-Chief of NCN, Michael Gordon told the Guyana Chronicle that as the crew from the television station exited their vehicle in an attempt to cover the march by the PNCR-1G contingent, the group of persons surrounded them and began hurling abuses.

He added that the crew moved off, but not before a plastic bottle thrown by one of the group struck an NCN staffer on the shoulder.

Gordon said the matter was reported to the Mackenzie Police Station and he will be recommending to the management of NCN to withdraw from giving coverage to the political meetings of the PNCR-1G, unless the leadership of the party can give the assurance that its supporters will not harass media personnel from the television station.

Gordon noted that NCN willingly signed to the Media Code which advocates that the media should operate in an environment freely without fear of life or limb, and called on the PNCR-1G to condemn the behaviour of its supporters.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, speaking at the rally of the PPP/C declared to cheering supporters: “You Lindeners make me feel so good, that I can’t wait to come for the victory celebrations.”

He expressed confidence that this time around the PPP/C will be victorious in Region 10 because of impressive work the government has executed in the region to improve infrastructure and the economic and social life of the people.

The President said he received complaints from supporters that the PNCR-1G was involved in pulling down PPP/C flags but he assured them that for every 1,000 flags pulled down the party will replace them with 5,000 more.

“The difference between us and them is that we are builders while they pull down things. They mash up and bruk up and we rebuild,” Mr. Jagdeo said, adding that the presence of the large gathering at the rally signifies the progress that has been made under the PPP/C government.

He also accused the PNCR and its leader Mr. Robert Corbin of isolating themselves from the people instead of meeting with them to help solve their problems.

“Only elections time you see them,” the President claimed, reminding the gathering that recently the PNCR distributed expired food in Linden with the hope of winning votes.

He further assured that it is the strength of the people that his party lives on, recalling that in 1992 it received two per cent of the votes in Linden but at the last elections that was upped to 23%. He confidently declared that this time the party will win the elections in the region.

He added his party has space for everyone and sees all children as children of Guyana, unlike the PNCR-1G which sees them as either PPP/C or PNCR-1G children.

The President recalled that when the PPP/C assumed office in 1992, one of the challenges it faced was returning the country to financial viability as the debt burden was overwhelming with 94% of revenue going back to repay debts incurred by the PNC government.

However, he pointed out, under the stewardship of the PPP/C, this has now been reduced to 12% and as such more money is available to execute developmental works.

In this regard, he said, under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme, the government intends to provide every child with a secondary education over the next seven years, recalling that in 1992 only 35% of children were awarded secondary school places, while this has now increased to 72%.

He also pointed out that secondary schools can be found now in the Amerindian communities where hitherto there was none.

By 2008, the President, said 80 doctors will have returned from Cuba to serve in the many hospitals that are being built and expanded.

In Linden, he alluded to the economic diversification under the European funded Linden Economic Advancement programme (LEAP), disclosing that, this has resulted in some 300 small businesses opening there.

He disclosed that foodstuff to the tune of $60M used to go into Linden, but trend is changing as increasingly Lindeners are getting into agricultural production through the efforts of the government.

According to Mr. Jagdeo, the PNC government had failed to diversify the economic activities of Linden when the “going was good in the 1970s” when the prices for bauxite, sugar and rice were high.

The President said his party is seeking power to have a partnership which will take the country forward and ensure that democracy is enshrined

“Power is not an end in itself. It is a tool to serve the people,” the President offered.

Speaking at the rally also, Prime Minister Sam Hinds submitted that apart from all the other achievements of the government, the most significant is the restoration and maintenance of freedom, as prior to the advent of the PPP/C to office, people lived in fear.

He also contended that Region 10 has shared equitably from the development and difficulties which the country has experienced, noting that Linden is benefiting from a subsidy of $150M per month for electricity; and under the Intermediate Savannahs Programme, agricultural development is taking place and the mining town is moving increasingly into an agro-processing zone.

He also said that the government has been moving steadily to revitalise the bauxite industry which went into decline from the 1970s, shortly after its nationalisation.

Another speaker, General Secretary of the party, Donald Ramotar, accused the PNCR-1G of using the issue of verification of the voters list to stall the elections and create a constitutional crisis in order to make government dependent upon it for support.

Criticising the PNCR for its poor performance in government, he recalled that in 1964, when it got into government, because of the abundant agricultural production it inherited from the then PPP government, the PNC promised the people free cassava and milk but instead they only got the “hard rock cassava stick.”

He added that in 1964, Guyana was the most developed English-speaking Caribbean state. But by 1992, according to Caribbean economist Alistair McIntyre, Guyana became the poorest ranking with Haiti.

Ramotar further charged that the PNC government ran this country as if it were its personal property.

He contended that the massive improvement in social services and infrastructure under the PPP/C government has laid the foundation for greater development. Chronicle - August 7th. 2006


“We shall return to ascendancy” Says PNCR-1G leader

By Joe Chapman.

When the People’s National Congress Reform-One Guyana(PNCR-1G) took its campaign to Linden Saturday night, its Presidential Candidate Robert Corbin told a huge crowd at the Mackenzie Bus Park that “Linden has always been the home-base of the PNC/R; it is our Mecca and it is for this reason that they have tried to break you.

They have tried to destroy your morale, they tried to bring us to the stage of mendicancy, in the hope that when we reach the point of no return, we will turn and beg them for salvation”.

However, Corbin offered, “the road is difficult, but if our ancestors could have withstood more than a century of slavery, we shall return to ascendancy in our own country”.

The rally included several of the candidates of the PNCR-1G platform including Anthony Veira, who preceded Mr Corbin’s taking to the podium as the main speaker.

The Opposition Leader told his supporters “Comrades, I do not want you to return our party to government out of emotions. I know that all of us generally at heart, support our party.

I want to suggest to you, particularly the young people of this community, that the only way for Guyana to come out of the present dungeon that it’s in, the only way that we can restore hope, the only way that we can have jobs again, the only way we can revitalise our educational system, the only way that we can make Linden breathe again, is to get rid of those people who have systematically brought Linden to a state of standstill over the past two years”. On the way to the PNCR-1G rally

Held at the same time with the PPP/C rally, which was held On the opposite bank of the Demerara River, at Lieu Ken Pen Square,Wismar, Mr Corbin said that in dealing with the privatisation of the bauxite industry, his party was willing to put aside politics in the interest of the country. He said his party knew it was necessary to have the best persons involved for the setting up a scheme for privatisation and persons of the calibre of Dr Clive Thomas, Claude Saul, and P Q De Freitas were made available. But Corbin reported that notwithstanding the competent advice that was given to the PPP/C government, the committee was pushed aside and a deal was done without a word from anybody else.

In looking at the offer to residents to clean drains and earning a salary, Corbin said there is dignity in cleaning drains but there should be a focus on youth development, which is what his government, if elected, will be offering to the young people.

Corbin said what his party is offering to the young people is a “Youth Empowerment Scheme which takes into account all aspects of youth development. “So when you go to vote on August the 28th, I would like you to vote for the Palm Tree, not because you like the us, not just because the Leader of the PNC is from Linden; but because when you put your X next to the Palm Tree, you are voting for a Youth Empowerment Scheme that will provide sustainable employment and development for our young people in Linden.”

Looking at the building of the Linden Hospital Complex among other areas of development, Corbin said if there are no proper health care programmes, and education systems in place for such developments, then the nurses and teachers will continue to leave the country.

For this reason he said persons when voting, should put an X next to the Palm Tree, saying YES to an increase in salaries of teachers and nurses. PNCR-1G supporters gather for their rally

He said that the PNCR-1G campaign will be a very clean and objective campaign, as it is set to attract persons of all ethnic groups.

Mr Corbin said “ No party can run this country unless it has respect for every ethnic group, whether it be East Indians, Amerindians Chinese, Portugese and so On; you have to respect all of us. As that is the only way this country is going to move forward".

Mr Corbin further remarked that when the President is quoted as saying that he is going “to get more black people votes in Linden, than the Alliance For Change (AFC) will get in the whole country, that is something telling you how much respect there is for you here in Linden. I say no more”. Chronicle - August 7th. 2006


TUF upbeat on its chances -- presents new faces

LEADER of The United Force (TUF) Mr. Manzoor Nadir yesterday introduced several new faces on the party’s 2006 national and regional elections lists and promised, among many other things, a better deal for workers should TUF emerge victorious at the August 28 polls.

At a news conference at the party’s New Garden Street, Georgetown headquarters where he was flanked by several of the new faces on the TUF slate, Nadir said his party has a list that “represents the entire public”, ensuring that “TUF has the best possible list for the upcoming elections”.

He said the TUF will run a democratic government where the will of the people is reflected in its policies and programmes from the level of the village council to the national government.

The new faces on the TUF list include businessmen Ron Persaud of Action Tyre and Kakan Ramzan, General Manager of Caribbean Star (Guyana), as well as University of Guyana lecturer Alana Brassington, former PNC Vice Chairman of Region Eight Manuel Francis, University of Guyana graduate Jenny Blackman, St Kitts based Guyanese journalist Rawle Nelson and probably Guyana’s youngest candidate and youth activist, Marvin Dublin.

Nadir, outlining his party’s plans, policies and programme for governing this country in the next five years, should it win the August 28 polls, said all the candidates were exceptionally happy to be campaigning on TUF’s platform.

“They all want to be within the party that is committed towards nation building and development (and) we have sought to put forward the best candidates as we believe that politics is serious business, that could be clean and civil” Nadir asserted.

The party leader said the list is efficiently composed as they believe that with a TUF Government the country needs the toughest people for the job.

“I am very happy with the lists that we have put forward and also with the fact that these professionals, which he claimed are young and experienced, have come forward to give their commitment to working with the party and for Guyana,” said Nadir, who is currently a technocrat minister under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration - holding portfolio responsibility for the crucial and important Tourism, Industry and Commerce sectors.

Asked by this newspaper yesterday whether there is any “conflict of interest” with him being a Minister under the PPP/C administration while at the same time being leader of a political opposition party contesting the upcoming elections and challenging the incumbent PPP/C administration of which he is a part, Nadir responded:

“It is clear that Manzoor Nadir is the Leader of TUF and also a Minister in the PPP/C administration but he is clearly not a member of the PPP/C political party. This is not a new situation; there were situations like this in the past.”

“I don’t see it as a conflict of interest because many countries have multi-party governments and Guyana could possibly end up with a multi-party government. We are very honoured to have been included in the last administration and as I have said recently on another interview, we distinguish between coalition and inclusivity; the President did not need a seat from TUF to establish a coalition of a majority in parliament but he was magnanimous to invite us to include us so that we could bring our ideas and talents into the development of the country between 2001 and 2006.”

Nadir said TUF will vigorously campaign on its plans and policies during this elections season.

“We feel honoured to participate in the last (current) administration and it certainly has worked to the benefit of TUF. Had we not had the opportunity to work within the administration, persons would not have been able to judge whether TUF or Manzoor Nadir has any capability whatsoever, and we are saying that if we have a small part to play with one Minister in Government; just imagine what will happen if we have a bigger part,” he posited.

Nadir also said TUF is “very, very upbeat” about its chances at the upcoming elections.

Introducing the new candidates on the TUF slate, Nadir pointed out that Persaud is known for his successful running of a multi-million dollar business in Action Tyre while he has been a prominent member of the Christian community for 20-odd years. “He is well respected in the Christian community where he has executed a number of projects and programmes. His experience and skills in business will be greatly appreciated as well,” Nadir said.

He noted that Ramzan is the Managing Director of Caribbean Star Airlines in Guyana and said he has expressed his happiness at being selected to serve as a candidate on TUF’s slate. In the 2001 Elections, Nadir said Ramzan was a candidate on another slate but has now noted that since being a member of TUF party, he has never been happier as he feels that only TUF is committed, right and ready to serve the people of Guyana.

Ms. Brassington is an English lecturer at the University of Guyana where she has been for the past three years. She is the mother of three and has been married for the past 11 years. She is also the President of the Guyana Heritage Society. She graduated with a distinction from UG.

Nelson has been a journalist for the past 10 years and is currently based in St Kitts and Nevis where he has established a Business Newsletter. He is also the President of Media in Support of People Living with HIV AIDS (MISPHA) an organization that promotes the reduction of Stigma and Discrimination in St Kitts and Nevis.

Nadir also believes that 18-year old Marvin Dublin is the country’s youngest candidate.

He said there are a number of other new candidates to the list he has dubbed “Victory List 2006”. Chronicle - August 6th. 2006


Democracy -- nine years after CBJ

NINE years and four months ago Dr Cheddi Bharrat Jagan, one of the greatest political leaders of the Caribbean region, passed away at a military hospital in the USA following a massive heart attack at the official residence in Georgetown for Guyana's Head of State.

The late President's indomitable spirit as a champion for Guyana's freedom, peace with justice and progress with good governance based on electoral democracy, still continues to strongly influence successive elections since the return of his People's Progressive Party to power in October 1992.

This seems very much the case today as the party he and his now 85-year-old widow, Janet, co-founded over half a century ago, is exuding confidence of retaining the government for a fourth consecutive term.

The PPP/C hopes to realise this achievement on August 28 based on verified free and fair elections for which it had struggled, along with others, for 24 years against the then governing People's National Congress.

For the coming elections, there will be monitors from the Commonwealth, CARICOM, Organisation of American States and the Carter Center, in addition to local observers being mobilised by the Electoral Advisory Bureau (EAB) which has built up its own credible record.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) seems determined to prove its opponents and critics wrong by the intensified positive efforts it has been making, even before Nomination Day, to ensure free and fair elections and, with the cooperation of the security forces, in a peaceful environment.

It was a rare and encouraging sight on Friday to have witnessed President Bharrat Jagdeo, the youngest Head of State of the Americas, and leader of the main opposition party, People's National Congress Reform (now styled PNCR-1G), Robert Corbin, sitting next to each other at the Office of the President for a comprehensive briefing provided by GECOM.

Since, with the close of nomination of candidates for the August 28 poll, both leaders had reaffirmed commitment to waging a "positive" campaign, with zero tolerance for violence or attempts to undermine the credibility of the electoral processes, it was good that President Jagdeo and Mr. Corbin took full advantage of GECOM's elections-readiness update, an arrangement facilitated by the office of the Head of State.

At the same time, a media briefing that would also have further enhanced confidence building, was being conducted by the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, ambassador Albert Ramdin, who had previously expressed the hemispheric body's "satisfaction" with the work being done by GECOM for credible elections.

One of the significant "firsts" for GECOM's elections-readiness, for which the Jagdeo administration and international donors have ensured required financial and technical resources, is the availability on polling day of "transparent ballot boxes".

Further, at each polling stations there will be two agents, one representing the incumbent PPP/C and the other the combined contesting opposition parties. Corbin is to provide the full list of polling agents of the contesting opposition parties.

Once in place all of the polling agents will be paid by GECOM from funds provided for this purpose, as another dimension of promised transparency.

These and other arrangements, designed to guarantee respect for the decision of eligible voters, sharply contrast with the mockery of what was the norm for so-called "elections" under the party "paramountcy" doctrine of the PNC whose leader, President Forbes Burnham, passed away 21 years ago today.

The combined assurances that have been coming from GECOM and the nation's security forces are most encouraging for this fourth general and regional elections since the restoration of electoral democracy in October 1992.

The Carter Center had played a crucial role in arrangements for the 1992 poll that had resulted in Cheddi Jagan's rise as Head of State, based on free and fair elections, after 24 years of successively rigged elections.

Since then, having free and fair elections in Guyana, as in other CARICOM states, has become the norm. This must remain a permanent feature of our political culture. Chronicle Editorial - August 6th. 2006


GAP/ROAR hopes for five seats in next parliament -Hardy

The Guyana Action Party (GAP) has doubled its support countrywide since the 2001 elections and if the Rise Organise And Rebuild (ROAR) Guyana movement could maintain a seat in parliament, the GAP/ROAR alliance should be able to secure at least five seats in parliament, the alliance's Presidential Candidate Paul Hardy said.

In an interview yesterday, Hardy told the Stabroek News that it was important that the next government did not control parliament by having 33 seats or more. "GAP/ROAR would like to see the Guyana parliament being the decision-making body in which the party in government would have to speak to the combined opposition. We never had that scenario in Guyana. So that is a scenario we are looking at," he said.

Hardy said that initially the smaller parties in Guyana came together to create this new scenario with the hope of going to the elections as one, but unfortunately that was not sustained so they would now have to work together in parliament after the elections. Stabroek News August 6th.2006 - read full story.


WPA will position itself in forefront of campaign for full constitutional reform -Roopnaraine

Following its surprise decision to stay out of the upcoming general elections, the Working People's Alliance (WPA) is moving to reposition itself in the forefront of the campaign for the full implementation of constitutional reforms.

WPA Co-leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine told Stabroek News that the party is moving towards restructuring itself, while preparing to embark on a drive to educate the people about constitutional reforms.

When the party announced that it would not participate in the August elections, the news came as a bit of a shock to some and as a bit of a relief to others. After more than 20 years, the party said it was not going to contest an election. And what is more, it was not going to contest an election in alliance with the PNCR, an association that found critics within and without the party structure given the history between the two groups.

Dr Roopnaraine explained that the collaboration between the parties began in the Parliament and it had intensified when all the parliamentary opposition parties - the PNCR, GAP-WPA and ROAR - decided to engage the elections commission on a joint basis to air their concerns about poll preparations. With the dissolution of the parliament, the parties later continued their work on the One Guyana Platform, absent former collaborator ROAR, but with other parties and groups. By this point he said the WPA's members and supporters had got used to the working relationship, al-though he noted that there were certainly concerns when the prospect of an electoral alliance with the PNCR came along.

Despite these concerns, Dr Roopnaraine believes that supporters would not have resisted an electoral alliance if the parties on the Platform had been able to work out agreements and assurances in relation to policies and the composition of the electoral slate. However, he said, there simply was not enough time to develop agreed programmes that were essential if an electoral alliance was to be more than a contrivance.

One of the party's more frank admissions in the announcement of its decision to stay out was that its strength has never been in contesting the elections. Dr Roopnaraine himself is candid about the party's limited potency as an electoral force, but he says it remains committed to a parliamentary way forward and intends to work to develop its capacity to present itself effectively to the electorate at future elections.

He said that in light of the party's decision against participating in the polls, it was not going to campaign either directly or indirectly. How-ever, he said, WPA supporters should give their support to parties that fought for acceptable preparations and conditions for elections and committed themselves to a government of national unity and reconciliation after elections. "I would tell them not to give any support to any party that believes it can manage the affairs of Guyana on its own," he added.

He also said the party would continue to maintain vigilance in relation to the election procedures, and he pledged that the party's efforts towards ensuring polling day arrangements were such that the results of the elections would be accepted by all the contesting parties.

The party's immediate plans are focused on strengthening itself internally, and this will see a recruitment drive, coupled with an attempt to rebuild its youth component as well as requisite arrangements to integrate its overseas membership. Dr Roopnaraine said the party had received proposals from members in the diaspora, particularly North America, to consider ways of integrating members and leaders currently out of Guyana into the party structure. He added that work to develop the party had been on the back burner, owing to the involvement of members in the constitutional reform process and more recently its efforts in the opposition campaign for proper electoral preparations. He said efforts at mobilisation would aim towards the holding of a members' conference, the first since 2001.

However, Dr Roopnaraine revealed that immediate attention was being given to an approved proposal that would see the party embark on a public education programme centred on the constitutional reforms. He said the party had been dissatisfied that so very little was known about the provisions in the reform constitution by the people to whom it matters most, and it hopes that people will know what their rights are and what mechanisms exist to enforce them.

For example, he noted that there was a provision that enabled groups of people who felt under threat of marginalisation to organise themselves and seek redress from the state, which had a constitutional obligation to provide such remedies.

Further, he also pointed to a provision that would allow the restoration of a village council where a community showed that it was the wish of its members.

During the announcement of the August 28 election date, President Bharrat Jagdeo expressed the hope that the political parties would put aside their differences and, among other things, return to the task of completing the implementation of constitutional reforms.

Dr Roopnaraine said that there had been a commitment by the diplomatic community to ensure that the outstanding reforms were implemented immediately after polls, and this would see reform work linked to the release of development funding. However, he felt it a pity they had not seen it wise to ensure that the reforms had been implemented prior to the election, in light of the post-'97 experience.

According to him, the post-election turbulence and bitterness has never seen the necessary environment for consensus building. Indeed, he noted that after the signing of the Herdmanston Accord in January 1998, it took one year to set up the Consti-tutional Reform Commission, which was left with six months to complete its work.

"All of which is to say that it would be wisest to attempt the implementation of the outstanding reforms and to deepen reform practices prior to the elections," he said. Stabroek News August 6th. 2006


PPP/C trumpets slate

Stabroek -August 2nd. 2006

The PPP/C slate for the elections boasts a higher than required percentage of women candidates, a youthful appeal in new candidates and an ethnic make-up which is representative of the people of Guyana as it prepares for upcoming elections, a press release from the party said on Saturday.

The PPP said that it is proud of the fact that in total, the party was able to exceed the percentage of required women on the list. The party said that the PPP/C's top-up and geographic lists contain 39 women candidates, the largest number of women candidates presented by any party. It said too that more than 34% of the candidates on the top-up and geographic lists are women.

"Our list includes women from academia, various professions, farmers, activists and [homemakers]. Women such as Gail Teixeira, Indra Chanderpal, Carolyn Rodrigues, Jennifer Webster, Dr Jennifer Westford, Philomena Sahoye-Shury, Priya Manickchand, Bibi Shadick, Dr Desrey Fox, Dr Shanti Singh and others demonstrate again that the PPP/C has the strongest line-up of women in its lists," the party said.

On the ethnic make-up of the candidates, the PPP/C said that just over 47% of the list is East Indian, while 25.1% is African, 18.2% is Amerindian and 8.8% of mixed origin. It said that there is also representation from Portuguese and Chinese. More than 25% of the PPP/C candidates fall into the category of youths, the release said.

The PPP/C said that it is the only party that was able to far exceed the minimum number of candidates. The release said that the party submitted 69 names on its top-up list.

The PPP/C added that there were many persons who wanted to be candidates on the PPP/C top-up lists, but the party had to omit them from the list, although they would be playing an important role in the campaign.

The party said that it had no difficulties in securing enough candidates for the list. According to the press release, the maximum number of total candidates for the Geographic Lists is 45 and this is the number that the PPP/C submitted for the lists.

"As with the PPP/C's top-up list, the party has far more candidates of substance than we could have placed on our list.

The maximum number of total candidates for the RDC lists is 305 and again the PPP/C submitted its ten RDC lists with the maximum total of 305 candidates," the party said in the release.

It said that the total number of candidates on its 21 lists amounted to 419, by far the largest number presented by any party.


Campaign season

Stabroek Editorial - July 30th. 2006

Eleven parties turned up at City Hall on Wednesday to submit their lists for contesting elections due to be held on August 28, of which six will be contesting the national elections and ten the regional. After months of uncertainty, therefore, we are now in the official campaign season. In one sense this may be a relief, but in another, of course, it inaugurates a period of anxiety, since there is no election from 1992 onwards which has not been accompanied by violence at some point after polling day.

Certainly, the main opposition party which this year is campaigning under the long-winded banner of the People's National Congress Reform One Guyana, did itself no credit when it allowed its supporters who had been denied entrance to the City Hall compound to break down the gates and swarm in. One would have thought that by this time they would have discovered that even a hint of indiscipline in the run-up to an election damages no one's electoral chances except their own.

The 1997 election was characterised by some 'hummable' jingles from the two main parties which were a great hit with schoolchildren, but in the last election the airwaves were saturated with a preponderance of PPP/C ads, presumably because the ruling party had a bigger war chest than did the main opposition. In the end, however, it does not appear to have helped them very much, since their support went down slightly at the polls, while that of the PNCR rose slightly. Perhaps it should be a lesson for all the parties, that too much political advertising interrupting the flow of a given programme loses its persuasive force, and simply becomes an irritant.

In any case, the conventional wisdom in the last three elections has been that the ethnic constituencies by and large were not really swayed by ads; they would vote along ethnic/party lines no matter what. The great test will be whether that truth will hold for the coming election too, or whether there will be some breach in the ethnic dam. The most recent poll conducted for Stabroek News by Mr Vishnu Bisram suggests that this might indeed be the case, especially among young people in the urban areas. However that may be, where the Amerindians in the hinterland are concerned - particularly those in Regions 1 and 9 - who may conceivably hold the outcome of these elections in their hands, they will hardly be in a position to see advertisements of any kind.

Over the years the two big parties have become adept at speaking out of two sides of their mouths during the campaign season. There are the more rational pronouncements about policy at major gatherings where the media are assembled, and then there is the vulgar talk in bottom houses and at small assemblies where there is little or no coverage. And the two constituencies are not only familiar with all the code words, but in the past the heartland voters, at least, have also not been interested in listening to expositions on policy; what they have wanted to hear is 'bad-talk' of the other side. Years of demonising the other party has engrained some unhealthy patterns of political behaviour.

And if this time around the ruling party fears that its overall majority may be under threat, and the main opposition is concerned that its share of the vote may decline, then the temptation to vituperation, not just of the traditional opponent, but of the parvenu party responsible for this may be even greater than usual. The last thing all right-thinking citizens want, especially those living on the lower East Coast and in the city, is a raising of the political temperature. It may be, however, that this time around hardball tactics on the part of the old-guard parties might produce the opposite result from what is expected, and that first-time voters, young voters in general and those who are exhausted by decades of political squabbling will be completely alienated by this.

What one hopes that the presence of a third force in this election will do, is for the first time elevate the political debate at all levels of the campaign. If there is disillusionment among any segment of either ethnic constituency, even on a modest scale, the main parties will have to make an attempt to convince those defectors by means other than the traditional appeal to ethnic-political solidarity. Any exchange which takes us beyond the incessant griping about the 28 years on the one hand and the fourteen years on the other, and involves a discussion of the kind of measures which could move the nation forward, would be an improvement on the usual fare.

Having said that, however, it may be too much to hope that the PPP/C and the PNCR OG - particularly the former - will completely abandon their over-used mantra of 'Don't split the vote' when campaigning among their supporters out of the limelight, and have something substantial to say instead. It has been a particularly powerful message among Indian voters, who have always been told that a vote for any of the smaller parties would allow the PNCR into office. While those who don't follow the news might still be swayed by this, Mr Bisram's recent poll shows that it is not just support for the governing party which has declined, but even more so that for the main opposition. It may be, therefore, that traditional PPP/C voters who are paying attention may no longer perceive this argument to hold water.

As said above, what everyone fears is violence. However, barring 1992, this has largely been confined to single incidents in the run-up to elections; the real problem has always come afterwards for reasons which at a fundamental level had their origins in something other than the conduct of the polls. The PNCR's reservations on the voters' list have been noted by everyone, but since they have now decided to go into the election while holding on to those reservations, the time has come for them to sign the peace pact as the other parties have done.

It is important that in the campaign period political passions are not stirred which could carry over into the post-elections period, and that all politicians consciously exercise restraint in the formulation of their pronouncements. It will surely be helpful that the Electoral Assistance Bureau with IFES will be monitoring and reporting on electoral-related violence. Holding the parties to public account for their words and actions will be the best way of ensuring that they do not overstep the boundaries.


PNCR 1 Guyana to accept results if poll fair

Stabroek News, July 29th 2006

The PNCR 1 Guyana is prepared to accept the results of the August 28 polls once it is free, fair and transparent but says it continues to have a problem with the voters' list.

PNCR Chairman Winston Murray said yesterday that despite its concerns over the electoral process the coalition still has hopes of winning the elections and President Bharrat Jagdeo should also be prepared to accept the results as he may not like them.

PNCR 1 Guyana presidential candidate Robert Corbin told reporters that the submission of its list of candidates on Nomination Day should not be seen as capitulation to the electoral process. "What the PNCR submission of its List does is to pull the rug from under the feet of those who sought to mislead the public into believing that the PNCR was unprepared for elections," he said, adding that it also signals the PNCR's intention to follow the process closely and not allow anyone a free hand and monopoly over the country's political space. "The submission of the PNCR`s 1 Guyana List must not be seen as a vote of confidence in GECOM," he added, saying that the coalition remains "deeply concerned" about the quality of the voters list. As a result, he said the group is anxiously awaiting the list of measures promised by the elections commission to avoid the electoral irregularities and fraud. He said it would continue to be the watchdogs of the system and would also develop anti-electoral fraud mechanisms.

And in defending the coalition with other groups, Corbin said that his party for sometime has spoken of it and added that they even went as far as stating that their party's presidential candidate did not necessarily have to be the coalition's presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, the party will hold a special delegates congress tomorrow, after which the coalition's prime ministerial candidate would be announced.

Corbin said the congress would discuss and refine the electoral programme and platform for victory. He said the congress would be used to formally launch the PNCR 1 Guyana election campaign for 2006.

The theme for the Congress is "PNCR for One Guyana: Moving Guyana Forward."

Close to 5,000 delegates are expected to attend from all ten regions in Guyana and from the overseas party groups. A large contingent of special invitees and dignitaries are also expected. After the Congress, delegates will march to the Square of the Revolution for a rally.

Corbin said the PNCR 1 Guyana would conduct a positive campaign which will be driven by issues and policies. He said the Guyanese people are more than tired of negative politics and promised that the party would address issues at the street, community, regional and national level, including issues that affect youth, women, indigenous peoples and others. He said it would also speak to the plight of public servants, farmers, the joint services and teachers. He added that the coalition's main themes will focus on spelling out ideas to resuscitate the economy; explaining how its five-year crime prevention and eradication plan will restore security; demonstrating its seriousness about building a unity platform in sync with the PNCR's call for shared governance; showing its commitment to restore national pride and a sense of nationhood; and explaining how its Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) will bring jobs, land, opportunities and hope to young people.


AFC stage collapses

By Neil Marks - Guyana Chronicle 06/07/29

THE stage of the Alliance For Change (AFC), with all its leaders on top, collapsed at Parade Ground, Georgetown last night just before the start of the party’s first public rally for the August 28 polls.

Two persons were taken to the hospital in what Prime Ministerial candidate Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, called an unfortunate and embarrassing incident. However, in less than 10 minutes, the sound system was restored and the podium was placed on top of a jeep and the rally continued.

There was no worry about the stage before the AFC leaders, including Ramjattan, Presidential Candidate Mr. Raphael Trotman and Vice-Chairman, Ms. Sheila Holder arrived at 19:45 h. “They are coming to the podium of victory,” the announcer said upon their arrival.

Just before their arrival, the crowd was treated to entertainment, which included tassa drumming and singing by local artistes.

The AFC leaders did not suggest any act of sabotage in the collapse of the stage, but their supporters mumbled among themselves, wondering who built the stage.

Shortly after Christian, Hindu and Muslim prayers were said, the AFC top representatives for the 10 geographic regions began filing on to the stage. It was the time of the introduction of the candidate from Region Six that the stage crashed to the ground.

Pandemonium did not break out and while most remained calm, many quickly rushed to the rescue of their leaders. Trotman and Ramjattan managed to help themselves up, while Holder was put on her feet by supporters.

Within five minutes, Ramjattan announced that the rally was going to continue, and in another five minutes, Trotman announced that “the show must go on.”

He suggested that the prayers be read a second time, and the crowd concurred.

Holder was the first to take to the podium and she informed the audience that before coming to the rally, she had a premonition something would happen and so she went down on her knees to pray.

She thanked God for keeping them safe, and the crowd shouted with approval when she said that they have to realise the AFC is fighting an “evil force” and hence they needed to invoke the Almighty.

Holder said it was significant that AFC was being launched on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Guyana’s independence, charging that the former governments of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and now the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) have failed to unlock the wealth of the country.

Playing on the party’s tagline not to vote on the basis on race, she said it was the Guyanese people who are responsible for the “sorrowful state” of racial voting and it was therefore the responsibility of the people to change this. Holder said the AFC is merely a vehicle to make the change.

She said the party has been able to raise “millions and millions of dollars” since it came into being nine months ago, and has as a result set up 10 offices across the country.

She said too the AFC’s sub-groups in Atlanta, New York and Toronto are working feverishly in support of the party, and “when we form the government, we will welcome them back.” The party’s campaign, she said,, is being managed by two Guyanese, one from New York and the other from St Lucia.

“The AFC has arrived,” Ramjattan said when he emerged on stage next and roused the crowd to loud applause when he said “Chanderpaul and Hooper got to score the runs for us,” making reference to the party’s campaign to end racial voting.

He charged that the PPP/C from which he was booted out for dissenting party views was guilty of taking Guyana down the road of violence and under-development, and claimed the PPP/C lacks the “integrity and character” of party founder, late President Cheddi Jagan.

“I’m not talking as if I don’t know, I know how they think,” he declared.

Presidential candidate Trotman was also scheduled to speak at the rally.

Among those who attended the rally were U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Michael Thomas, advertising executive Bernard Ramsey, and former public relations officer to the PNCR, Andrea McAdam.


GECOM 'to ensure' early release of poll results

With a five-day gap between the poll date and the deadline for the setting up of the new parliament, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) says it will ensure the early delivery of the results for the August 28 general and regional elections.

Commission Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally yesterday said at a press conference that there would not be an interminable wait for results, a situation that has dogged previous polls.

Dr Surujbally was hopeful of early results, especially with the technological advancements since the last elections, and he disclosed that the commission has been working with GT&T and is depending on procedures for the speedy communication and transmission of results. Chief Election Officer, Gocool Boodoo also said the commission would try to have it declared as soon as possible, adding that there were mechanisms in place to ensure it. He said he would rather not reveal what they were. Stabroek 06/07/28


PNCR heads opposition polls challenge
Photos by Cullen Bess-Nelson, Winston Oudkerk, Quacy Sampson
By Neil Marks


Leader of the PNCR Mr. Robert Corbin presents the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.
THE People,s National Congress Reform (PNCR), with linkages to small parties and other groups, under a platform called ‘One Guyana, literally stormed into the elections race yesterday presenting its nominations to contest the 2006 polls as the main challenger to the incumbent People,s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).

The Alliance for Change (AFC) made up of Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman, ex-members of the PPP/C and the PNCR respectively, an alliance between Paul Hardy,s Guyana Action Party (GAP) and Ravi Dev,s Rise Organise and Rebuild (ROAR), and Manzoor Nadir,s The United Force (TUF), installed themselves as other competitors to form the national government and geographic constituencies when they completed the Nominations Day process at City Hall.

Leader of the PNCR, Mr. Robert Corbin, presented a list of candidates under the name `One Guyana PNCR, reflecting its alliance with the National Front Alliance (NFA), Mr. Anthony Vieira, the TV station owner who once had his own party, and other groups, which were not named.

In its thrust to create one Guyana, Corbin said the list has a strong focus on young people and therefore its Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) has been identified as the centre piece of its elections campaign under the theme "PNCR for One Guyana – Moving Forward Together."


Marissa Nadir, daughter of TUF leader Manzoor Nadir, presents the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.
Notably absent from the One Guyana PNCR,s national list is Mr. Stanley Ming. A surprise inclusion is that of Evening News senior reporter Mr. Roy Babel.

Corbin said the composition of the list reflects skill, talent and experience and represents a wide cross section of Guyanese including youth, all ethnic groups, indigenous people, the private sector, professionals and women.

An over exuberant part of Corbin,s entourage, the last to arrive before the 18:00 h deadline for the submission of nominations, stormed into the compound of City Hall, despite aggressive action of the City Constables and pleadings from PNCR executive Joseph Hamilton. When that group ran into the compound with palm branches and hailing their party slogans, the gate was locked, but only to be forced open again by another group, this time with Corbin.

The PNCR supporters were the only ones the City Constables had trouble with in trying to maintain order to allow for a peaceful acceptance of nominations by Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodhoo.

Corbin was mobbed by the media for answers to questions on the alliances and its failed bid to attract the Working People,s Alliance (WPA) under its One Guyana Platform.

He said the One Guyana Platform would have been better off with the WPA. The party, with co-leader Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, announced Tuesday evening its boycott of the 2006 polls, scheduled for August 28.

In a statement, the WPA said "the objective conditions for a free and fair election free from fear have not only not been created" but are diminishing.


Raphael Trotman of the Alliance for Change presents the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.
The party said converting the One Guyana Platform into an electoral alliance in which the WPA was prepared to participate required achieving mutual agreement on a number of conditions among the member parties and expanding the platform to include a wider array of social and political forces.

"Unfortunately efforts to secure these conditions have not succeeded in the short time available. The WPA will not, therefore, contest elections within the One Guyana Platform," it announced.

"Rather than continue in an electoral process which brings fresh anxiety on a weekly basis, the WPA will dedicate itself to the immediate task of developing and guiding the debate about how Guyana should be governed after national elections," the party added.

However, while not contesting the elections, the WPA said the concept of One Guyana must survive.

Corbin met President Bharrat Jagdeo and GECOM Tuesday and said he would be looking forward to action being taken on its concerns for avoiding skulduggery on polling day.

He told the Chief Elections Officer the party was presenting its list despite the flaws it has identified in the preparations for elections.


Ravi Dev of the GAP/ROAR alliance presents the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.
After presenting the party,s list, Corbin told reporters the PNCR remains deeply concerned about the quality of the Final Voters List, but looks forward anxiously to the measures promised by GECOM to avoid electoral irregularities and fraud.
"If Guyana is to enjoy peace and prosperity, GECOM has the responsibility to conduct elections that meet the international standards for being classified as free, fair and transparent," he said.

AFC
Corbin said he was not bothered about the fact that the new AFC could eat away at its support base. The PNCR, like it did heading into the 2001 polls, did not name a prime ministerial candidate to its presidential candidate, Corbin.

The AFC said the main source of its confidence heading into the polls was the "thousands of supporters."

The AFC was the second party to present its nominations. This was preceded by a sizeable crowd of vociferous supporters who urged "Choose change" and sporting blazing yellow bandanas and the party,s symbol, a key.


Justice for All Party leader CN Sharma and his wife, Savitri, presenting the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.
The party said it has demonstrated over the past months that it has the tenacity and the drive to represent the people of Guyana, "to lead them into a future with determination, integrity and good governance."
It said the fact that it was able to field a slate of candidates in all ten regions of the country is testimony to the popularity and strength of the movement.
"We offer a new vision, clear policies which we have outlined in our action plan for change and development of Guyana, and a chance to emerge as a nation that can utilise its most precious resource, its people, to the fullest," the AFC stated.

Presidential candidate Trotman said the movement believes it has a strong list, strong bonds of friendship, and a strong determination to end racial voting in Guyana. He said the road ahead would be difficult, but he said himself and Ramjattan are tried and proven campaigners, having been crucial to the cause of the PNCR and the PPP/C.

TUF
TUF, which led a colourful parade to City Hall, hailing its presidential candidate Nadir and prime ministerial candidate Michael Abraham, brought also with them a surprise candidate, security expert Errol Van Nooten.


Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Samuel Hamer presents the party,s list of candidates. for the 2006 general and regional elections.
Nadir, who has served the PPP/C government as Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, rebuffed suggestions that it was a conflict of interest to be running a campaign in the elections given his association with the PPP/C.
However, he told reporters, his party,s campaign is not against the PPP/C, but rather TUF,s vision towards achieving its 40-year dream of taking the reigns of government.

The TUF barely managed a seat at the March 2001 elections and accepted the offer of the PPP/C to join its cabinet. Nadir said over the last five years, with him as minister, TUF feels it has made a significant contribution to the economic development of Guyana.

TUF said its list encompasses varying levels of professions, skills and geographic dispersion, including several university students, young skilled professionals and competent persons.

"A number of political parties have begun boasting about who and who they have been able to attract from each others political party. What we are happy about is that as TUF swings into the blue zone from today, we will compete head to head with any and every party as we will do our fighting on the platform," the party stated.


Leader of the United Muslim Party, Nazir Hussain, reacts upon being told he did not qualify for nomination for the 2006 general and regional elections.
Nadir outlined his commitment to "a very peaceful and character- assassination-free campaign."

The upcoming elections would represent Nadir,s fourth as leader of the TUF and he said he has never been as confident "because of the work that we have been able to complete and the support that we have garnered."

"We are the only party that has ever laid out a programme based on a free enterprise economy, democracy and divine values. TUF has been the only party not to have to change its ideology," Nadir stated.

GAP/ROAR
The alliance of GAP and ROAR was not unexpected. Months ago, the two parties and the WPA were behind a Third Force platform to contest the elections, with businessman Peter Ramsaroop,s involvement.



National Democratic Front leader Joseph Bacchus presents the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.


However, the WPA bailed out and Ramsaroop,s "Vision Guyana" in a statement said he would not be contesting the elections since a system is not in place to conduct the polls.

GAP had formed an alliance with the WPA at the 2001 polls and together they secured two parliamentary seats. Last year, they broke ranks, and WPA,s Member of Parliament joined the AFC.

GAP/ROAR go to the polls with Hardy as Presidential Candidate and Ravi Dev as prime ministerial candidate.

Asked about the party,s thrust going into the elections, Hardy told the Guyana Chronicle this would be better determined after the elections results.

OTHERS

Among the other parties which submitted nominations was the Justice For All Party (JFAP), which secured two regional seats at the 2001 elections.

People,s Republic Party leader Timothy Norton presents the party,s list of candidates for the 2006 general and regional elections.
With the popular television owner and presenter CN Sharma as Presidential Candidate and attorney Geoffrey Sankies as prime ministerial candidate, the party would be contesting the polls with plans to provide free housing and water, better healthcare and better wages.

The other parties which submitted nominations were the National Democratic Front with Joseph Bacchus as leader, Guyana National Congress with Samuel Hamer as leader, Liberal Democrats with Malek Cave as leader, and the People,s Republic Party with Timothy Norton as leader.

The United Muslim Party,s nominations did not meet the requirements and were deemed ineligible.

Several new faces on PPP/C list
By Mark Ramotar


LISTS IN: President Bharrat Jagdeo presenting the PPP/C lists to Chief Election Officer, Mr. Gocool Boodhoo yesterday.
AMID fanfare and frenzied support from thousands of ecstatic supporters, the governing People,s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) yesterday submitted what it described as a "winning list" of candidates on the party,s slate at both the general and regional elections billed for August 28.

There are several new faces on the PPP/C list, including two prominent journalists – NCN Channel 11 news anchor Ms. Natasha Waldron and Stabroek News senior sports reporter Mr. Steve Ninvalle, and Dr. Desrey Fox, Head of the Amerindian Research Unit of the University of Guyana and Curator of the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology.

The list also includes the name of popular and charismatic PPP leader and veteran journalist, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo whose celebrated return to the folds of the party following a high voltage row a few months ago has been eagerly anticipated and widely welcomed by the party,s supporters across Guyana.

Other names appearing on the PPP/C list for the first time include those of prominent young lawyers, Mr. Anil Nandlall and Mr. Adrian Anamayah; Consultant and Environmentalist, Mr. Shyam Nokta – the son of current acting Agriculture Minister, Mr. Harripersaud Nokta; religious leader and pastor Mr. Kwame Gilbert; Economist Ms. Jennifer Webster and Consultant, Mr. Nanda Gopaul.

Two other new faces are Mr. Mohamed Ali, a Project Officer in the Ministry of Finance and Mr. Brian Young, an IT entrepreneur.

The PPP/C list is headed by President Bharrat Jagdeo and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who will be the party,s Presidential and Prime Ministerial candidates, respectively, at the upcoming polls.

Not surprising were the names on the list of some of the old stalwarts and rising stars of the party including Dr. Roger Luncheon, Reepu Daman Persaud, Donald Ramotar, Harripersaud Nokta, Kellawan Lall, Clinton Collymore, Dr. Dale Bisnauth, Brindley Benn, Indranie Chandarpal, Ralph Ramkarran, Gail Teixeira, Philomena Sahoye, Clement Rohee, Frank Anthony, Robert Persaud, Dharamkumar Seeraj, Shanti Singh, Bheri Ramsaran and Ronald Harsawack.

ith the party,s theme song ‘Togetherness,, blaring loudly from the stereo system mounted atop an open-back pick-up vehicle, the large, well organised and enthusiastic throng of PPP/C supporters and members joined President Jagdeo and Prime Minister Hinds as they marched confidently from the PPP,s Freedom House headquarters in Robb Street to City Hall, a short distance away to present their list of candidates for the upcoming elections.

President Jagdeo, in the presence of members of the PPP/C leadership, local and international electoral observers and a large horde of media representatives, presented his party,s list of candidates to Chief Election Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Mr. Gocool Boodhoo around 14:20 h.

The PPP/C was the third political party contesting the upcoming elections to present its lists to the Chief Elections Officer during yesterday,s Nomination Day activities at City Hall.

The two parties that submitted their lists of candidates before the PPP/C when Nomination opened at 14:00 h were the Justice For All Party (JFPA) headed by Mr. Chandra Narine Sharma and the much touted Alliance For Change (AFC) party which has former People,s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Executive Member Mr. Raphael Trotman as Presidential Candidate and former PPP/C Executive Member Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan as his deputy.

President Jagdeo, in presenting the PPP/C list to the Mr. Boodhoo, lauded the work done by the independent Elections Commission in getting to the stage where it is today, and with elections slated for August 28.

"We in the PPP/Civic party will support the (electoral) process so whilst we are presenting the wining list today, we are also interested in the (elections) process," President Jagdeo told Boodhoo.

Speaking with reporters afterwards, President Jagdeo said the PPP/C slate for the 2006 elections reflects its campaign theme ‘A Brighter Future For All, and the party,s tradition of being a genuine mass-based multi-ethnic party in Guyana.

He noted that the nomination list submitted to GECOM yesterday not only meets constitutional requirements but clearly illustrates the party,s reach, and efforts to truly represent every group and attracting the best and brightest Guyanese.

In terms of gender representation on the PPP/C list, President Jagdeo noted that the ‘National Top Up list, satisfies the criterion of having one third of its candidates as female, while the ratio for female on the ‘Regional Geographical list, even exceeds this mark for several regions. Among them are Regions Seven and Nine while the number of female nominees in Region Two is equal to the male candidates. Chronicle 06/07/27

 

Eleven line up for poll

Eleven political parties yesterday handed in lists to contest the August 28 general election in an energy-filled afternoon slightly marred towards the end when supporters of the One Guyana PNCR burst through the gates of City Hall minutes before the deadline.

Presenting lists beginning from 2 pm were the Justice For All Party (JFAP), the Alliance For Change (AFC), the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), the National Democratic Front (NDF), the United Muslim Party (UNP), Guyana National Congress (GNC), the Guyana Action Party/Rise Organize and Rebuild Guyana (GAP/ROAR), One Guyana People's National Congress Reform (OG/PNCR), the Liberal Democrats (LD), People's Republic Party (PRP) and The United Force (TUF). Stabroek News 06/07/27

WPA will not contest poll

The Working People's Alliance (WPA) last night announced that it would not participate in the upcoming general elections.

In a surprise announcement on the eve of nomination day, the party said its decision was the result of the failure to attain conditions for an electoral alliance as well as its dissatisfaction with the elections preparations. "The WPA will not, therefore, contest elections with the One Guyana Platform," it said in a statement.

This will mark the first polls in more than 20 years in which the party has not participated. The party, however, assured that it would not disappear but would assume a role in developing and guiding the debate about how the country should be governed post-elections. Stabroek News

Peter Ramsaroop's group skips poll -points to flawed system

Peter Ramsaroop's Vision Guyana will not be contesting the 2006 general elections. Ramsaroop, who chairs the group, said in a press release yesterday that stakeholders have advocated for key changes that should take place in the electoral process and in his opinion going to the polls with a system that is flawed will not solve the critical issues the nation is encountering. "Having a list that is faulty is sure to provoke emotional eruptions after an election," he said.

The group is also concerned that should there be a "split opposition in Parliament, it will create… new animosity in our nation and allow once again a runaway government off its tracks." The chairman said Guyana needs a complete overhaul of the system where "we can truly have constituency-based elections for seats in Parliament and an executive body that is responsible and accountable to the legislative body and the people…" He said Guyana cannot afford another five years of a system that is out of control, where people continue to live in poverty and under autocratic rule. Ramsaroop also gave assurances that the group will continue to work with stakeholders and, through investments, try to better the country. Ramsaroop's group had been part of discussions for a Third Force but these talks dissolved following disagreements.


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