If if is one thing that the 2020 national elections has revealed, it is those politicians who have Guyana at heart versus those who have ill-gotten political gains at heart. It has exposed corrupt, power-hungry politicians who tried to incite racial division and violence and at the same time shone light on men and women of integrity and principle.
Of the latter group, AFC politician Mr. Dominic Gaskin has definitely earned his space and for his words on the 19th of June, 2020 will go down in Guyana’s history as a man who has the nation’s best interest at heart. In March 2020, when the David Granger Administration, having perceived that it has lost, was trying to derail the electoral process, Mr. Gaskin spoke up and said that elections 2020 has been a national embarrassment, calling in essence for the charade to stop. Read Story: Elections 2020 Has Been a National Embarassment – Dominic Gaskin.
In that statement, Mr. Gaskin questioned, “if you we cannot manage a simple elections, how can we manage an oil economy?”
On the evening of June, 19, 2020, when the coalition had moved once again to court to try to block the declaration of the recount results, Mr. Gaskin once more broke his silence.
Spoken like a true general, the political leader delivered a compelling statement conceding defeat while urging his colleagues to stop fooling their supporters and prepare to play the role of a a credible opposition.
Indeed, it is clear to see that the actions of the APNU/AFC politicians are ruining their chances of even serving as a credible opposition on whom the population can depend to monitor the government in power.
FULL STATEMENT BY MR. DOMINIC GASKIN
Having said what I had to say back in March, and having then stayed silent for three months while the recount was agreed, challenged and finally executed, I can no longer wait quietly and politely while our country gets hijacked, ridiculed and torn apart.
In a nutshell, there are six things I would like to elaborate on concerning the 2020 elections adventure:
1) A win by either of the major contestants ought not to have come as a shock to anyone;
2) Supporters of the APNU+AFC were misled into believing that the coalition had won the election;
3) There was then a deliberate attempt to discredit the entire elections;
4) No evidence has been provided to support the claim of vast numbers of rejected ballots among those of the disciplined services, let alone the allegation of a deliberate attempt to invalidate the votes of the disciplined services;
5) No power on earth can convince the APNU+AFC leadership that it lost the election; and
6) All that has occurred since March 4th will make it extremely difficult for APNU and/or the AFC to defeat the PPP in 2025.
It was never a valid assumption that, having won the 2015 elections by a slim majority, the APNU+AFC Coalition would easily win the 2020 elections. It was always going to be tough fight. I’m no political analyst, but it’s fairly obvious that the swing vote has determined the results of the last three General elections in Guyana. Having failed at the polls for over two decades, the PNC never commanded the electoral strength to win an election on its own, and was only able to squeeze past the PPP-C because of its alliance with the AFC. Unlike the PPP-C and the PNC, the AFC does not have a stranglehold on any section of the electorate. Instead it relies on a swing vote that is more discerning and less forgiving than the constituents of the two larger parties. The question, therefore, is whether it is possible that a sizeable portion of the swing voters, who supported the AFC in 2015, abandoned the Coalition in 2020 and voted instead for the PPP and the new parties. To me this is entirely possible and therefore the results of the 2020 election, while not desirable, are certainly plausible.
Having paid close attention to the tabulated results of the 2020 elections, and having done some projections of my own, I knew by Wednesday, March 4th that a coalition victory, while still possible, was unlikely. I was aware that we had lost the East Coast Demerara sub-district by several thousand votes and the East Bank Demerara sub-district by close to one thousand votes. At the time, the Returning Officer for District Four, Mr. Clairmont Mingo, had completed the tabulations for the Georgetown area, showing the Coalition ahead in District Four by nearly forty thousand votes. This was clearly not enough to close the more than fifty thousand vote lead that the PPP-C had gained in the other nine electoral districts, which had already been tabulated. I was not particularly concerned when I heard the first reports of a “spreadsheet” being used by Mr. Mingo. However, when I heard the actual numbers that he finally declared, I became deeply suspicious. There was no way his numbers could have been correct. Much to my disappointment, the leaderships of both APNU and the AFC claimed that Mingo’s numbers were consistent with our own Statements Of Poll. They also insisted that a final declaration be made on the basis of those numbers, and supported the court action to prevent a recount. The recount went ahead and the results showed clearly that Mingo’s numbers could not have been based on actual Statements Of Poll. At the very least APNU+AFC’s supporters deserve an explanation from its leadership as to the basis on which they claimed to have won the election prior to the recount.
We live in an imperfect world and no electoral system, especially not one that relies on manual voting and counting, is foolproof or devoid of irregularities. The nation put its faith in the CARICOM observer team, and held its breath for the duration of the recount, while being treated to a daily menu of “Breaking News” of more and more discoveries of “Massive Fraud” and “Systemic Rigging”. In the end the CARICOM team delivered its report, endorsing the elections and the results of the recount, only to have it rejected by the Coalition in favour of a devious piece of reasoning by Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield. To her credit, the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission then issued very clear instructions to Mr. Lowenfield to submit a report for consideration by the Commission using the results of the recount. Needless to say, another move to the court has been made and this report, from which a final declaration should have resulted, will now have to await the outcome of yet another tedious challenge. The claims of fraud were grossly exaggerated and, unfortunately, designed to fool party supporters, who had placed their faith in the coalition, into believing that there was actual evidence of serious elections rigging by the PPP-C. The claim that vast numbers of disciplined services ballots were deliberately not stamped, and therefore rejected, is a case in point. The so-called intermixing stations are known, and it is a fairly simple task to sum up all the unstamped rejected ballots in those stations to support the allegation. This, however, was not done and the ominous suggestion was left to torment the minds of the men and women responsible for the defence and protection of our country and its citizens.
All of this leads me to a very uncomfortable conclusion. The APNU+AFC has no intention of relinquishing control of government. Five years after winning an election and gaining office with a fair amount of goodwill, the coalition is saying to the people who put us there, the equivalent of “unless and until WE are satisfied beyond a shadow of a doubt that “more votes are cast” in favour of another party in a an election that WE deem credible, WE ain going nowhere”. That condition will never be satisfied.
My message to my colleagues in the APNU+AFC is simple. No one elected us to remain in office forever. There is no reasonable basis on which you can claim to have won more votes than the PPP-C in these elections. Level with your supporters and start directing your energies towards becoming a credible opposition party in time for 2025. Above all, try to regain the trust of the swing voter. You will never win another election without their support.