Since the restoration of free and fair elections in Guyana, the only election results that have been accepted were those of 1992, even though they, and most other elections since then, were accompanied by violence, particularly after the elections. The Opposition castigated the 2011 elections alleging ‘discrepancies,’ although admitting that the results would not have been affected. The PPP went further and alleged that the 2011 elections were rigged against it.

The consequences of the failure to accept election results have been devastating to Guyana. It results, after most elections, in serious post-election violence, which causes damage to property, injury and loss to innocent people and harm to Guyana. It further exacerbates ethnic tension, which the elections campaign would already have whipped up, drives fear in the population and generates a feeling of uncertainty in the minds of investors.

In the recent elections in Nigeria, Opposition candidate Muhamadu Buhari, 72, a former military dictator, scored an upset victory by defeating the incumbent, Jonathan Goodluck, who conceded defeat and congratulated Buhari even before the counting of the votes had concluded when it became clear that he had lost. This had never been done.

Writing in his April 3 column ‘A changing tide in Nigeria’s fortunes,’ Sir Ronald Sanders said: ‘The ritual of conceding defeat with a telephone call is fairly normal in most countries, but it is so unique an event in Nigeria that several respected Nigerian figures…lauded President Goodluck for doing the right thing…it was the first time in the country’s history that a loser called his opponent to admit defeat in a presidential poll. By conceding defeat in the manner that he did, Jonathan spared Nigeria widespread violence and unrest that many observers feared might be a consequence of the elections. Had that unrest occurred it would have further set back Nigeria’s economy, which has been reeling from the falling prices of oil, the main money earner for its economy.’

Even though Guyana’s return to democracy was five years earlier in time than Nigeria’s, no such telephone call has ever been made despite the fact all elections since 1992 have been declared to be free and fair by credible local and international observers.

With the history of free and fair elections in Guyana, it is surprising that there appears to be a consensus that Guyana needs foreign observers. It may well be that there is an sub-conscious feeling that Guyana ethnic politics needs an mediatory nurse maid to guide it over the elections so as to at least assist in dampening the violent prone responses to the results.

Already for months GECOM has been under sustained, weekly, assault by the PPP, which must have had negative consequences on its credibility, even though GECOM is doing a highly credible job. Friendly diplomatic missions in Guyana which assist in funding our elections have pointedly and rightly so, expressed confidence in GECOM.

Now, to pour Opposition gasoline on the PPP fire, broadly speaking, the Opposition is alleging that the voters’ list is ‘dirty.’ This accusation is deeply emotive. It is of long memory and ignoble history since 1968. I said ‘broadly speaking’ because, believe it or not, the PPP which has been accusing and demanding of GECOM over issues relating to the whole gamut of the elections process, has surprisingly rejected the Opposition’s accusation of a ‘dirty’ list.

Dr. Steve Surujballi, the Chairman of GECOM, has explained why the list of 570,708 is approximately 76 percent of the estimated population of 750,000. It is because there is no legal mechanism to delete from the list the names of persons who have migrated. These persons do not report to anyone when they are leaving and there is no way to discover who the emigrants are.

The elaborate legal and administrative mechanism, including stakeholder participation, to ensure the validity and accuracy of registrants ensures that every person on the list is lawfully entitled to be there. If some of these lawful registrants have migrated, they cannot be deemed to be ‘dirty.’ They have to remain on the list until they are removed in the process of a new house-to-house registration.

In any event, the voters’ list is only one feature of free and fair elections. The staining of fingers after voting, counting at the place of poll, the placement of polling agents by both major political parties at most polling stations, the requirement for the signature of polling agents on the statements of poll, the public display of the statements of poll immediately after the count and more, all add up to ensuring free and fair elections.

Foreign observers have pronounced on elections on five occasions from 1992. Since Guyana still appears to need observers and the latter seem willing to assist, they should take their game to a higher level on this and future occasions. They cannot properly insist that the losers accept the results as this would be seen as interference. But they can negotiate that as a condition of accepting the invitation to observe, they would ask that the results be accepted by the political parties if they are deemed to be free and fair. Observer missions with clout such as the Carter Centre and the Commonwealth should take the lead in this persuasive effort.

Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting
    Question….if polling for local and national elections
    is on may 11th… both local and national list of
    voters (registered) tallied (verified/audited) ??

    UK s elections takes place on 7th may ….both local and national elections. List of registered voters are
    displayed in poling stations.
    Names and addresses of all those registered to vote. Of course those who chose not to be registered cannot vote. Registration is also
    a legal requirement but “compulsory” voting not.

    Some are lobbying for compulsory voting “nationally”……

    Switzerland’s system is one of the most advanced
    in Europe …..with less than 5million registered voters. May add their citizenship criteria also.
    You are a citizen of your canton (village/town)
    first…(10 years residency status nationally) before
    you can be a citizen of Switzerland.

    Guyana with just over half million voters should be
    even easier an administrative procedure.

    Its not rocket science to implement checks/bounds.

    However let’s hope Nigeria 170million has set the
    tone of election results.
    In sport one shakes the hands of the winners.
    Why not in politics ?
    Gentlemanly/womanly conduct in public is national building.
    Eusi kaywana would agree.

  2. every sensible person is fully aware that the opposition has been pouring gasoline,on the
    incumbent government, long ago,and moreso
    they never accepted elections results,after 1992,
    and they will never accept the results of the forthcoming elections if the ppp wins, that is for sure,worthless to call the winner to extend congratulations,and accept defeat.

    why a” house- to house” registration could not have
    been done since 1992 to 2014?
    was it really hard to conduct ‘ a house to house’
    registration during the ample time,in view of present day technology?(if ppp becomes the loser
    they can only blame themselves for the dirtiness)

    according to information 570.708 is equivalent to
    76% of the populaion,750 thousand, then 24% consist and considered as non eligible to vote,
    what is the age distribution of guyana”s population

    if you acknowledged,and appreciated(ng) ,johnattan goodluck,then is scary- for the ppp and will be good for the brigader. and the opposition forces of guyana-and what good luck is in store for guyana? can u predict? yes,you are wise.

    gecom should not take sides.whatsover to encourage voters to vote, their,duty is to act in fairness,clean and smooth.process of may 11 election,,in the interest of the six races of
    our lovely native land.or else change their name
    ‘GOCOME’ would be appropriate

    overseas guyanese, hoping and praying that there
    will be no pouring of gasoline on fire in guyana,our
    lovely native land after the may 11 elections.

    in conclusion, i am making it explicitly clear i am not
    a pro ppp neither am i pro anpu/acf.

    and we all are hoping for the best.,and lets wait for
    uk election result ,just to see who wil be calling the
    winner,and perhaps of the loser of guyana election can do the same,and avoid the pouring
    of gasoline.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.