First Published: 21st of March, 2021
The incumbent APNU/AFC’s government’s attempt to rig the March, 2, 2020 elections in Guyana, South America could have been brushed aside as a mere “allegation” by opposition parties if it hadn’t been officially documented by neutral observers. It is a stunt that has been described as the, hands down, “most barefaced” attempt to rig an elections ever witnessed.
And it was witnessed by a team of local and international observers from around the world, party members, and various other stakeholders. At one point, a then government Minister threatened to revoke the permits of international observers. During the showdown, a Commonwealth official took off his observer badge and pelted it to the floor in protest. International agents were not willing to sit idly by and allow a group of thugs to hold the country at ransom and rule it by force. They did not fear accusations of “interferism.” They were determined to play an active part in helping to enforce fairness and the rule of law in a country that was at a turning point in history and in what was dubbed as “the mother of all elections.”
The Head of the European Union Observer Group was the first to speak up and ask, provisioned by the International Observer’s terms and conditions, to see the SOPs from which the Returning Officer, Mr. Mingo, was preparing his infamous “spreadsheet.” At that time, Mr. Mingo was using fictitious numbers to bloat the incumbent government’s vote count in Region 4 with the aim of giving it a fallacious victory. At the same time, APNU/AFC supporters were vehemently calling for the swearing in of the presidential candidate and then President, David Granger.
This led to outcry, outbursts and protests from the PPP/C supporters as well as supporters from other minority parties all across Guyana. Roads were blocked, police were attacked, persons were shot and killed, and many were wounded. Public spirited citizens and various stakeholders from the various opposition parties spent sleepless nights guarding the containers of ballot boxes from possible tampering. All of this culminated into an agreement for a recount from which all observers except CARICOM was barred.
The recount results, certified by the CARICOM Observer Team, proved a PPP/C victory, and the incumbent government and its supporters finally and reluctantly ceded to the PPP/C.
Part of the EU Final Report Reads:
The results declared by the RO on 13 March are not credible. Among many other oddities suggesting that they have been grossly tampered with, without enough attention given to overall coherence, these results imply that the total number of electors who cast a ballot – valid or invalid –differed by 6,123 between the general and the regional elections. This is technically impossible since electors mark their choice for both elections on a single piece of ballot paper, two parts of which are detached only during the count. Following a tabulation process that was rushed through in deliberate opacity, there were consistent efforts to conceal other sources of verification of the declared results: not a single SOP in the possession of the RO, the CEO and APNU+AFC was made available to public scrutiny; the computerised processing of SOPs received by the CEO and initialed by GECOM commissioners was shut down in the immediate aftermath of the forced evacuation of the tabulation center on 5 March morning and the server with stored SOP data was never accounted for; on the same day, citizen ob-server groups and some political parties noted that most copies of SOPs that were posted outside the polling stations after the count had been removed; and requests for access to SOPs the EU EOM sent to the two main political parties were only answered by PPP/C.