Nickerie.Net, dinsdag 29 augustus 2006

Update 29-08-2006

Verkiezingen in Guyana verrassend rustig verlopen

Akhielesh Mahabier


Georgetown (Guyana) - De parlements- en presidentsverkiezingen, gisteren gehouden in Guyana, zijn in tegenstelling tot de voorgaande drie verkiezingen zeer rustig verlopen. De gevreesde gewelddadigheden zijn tot grote verassingen van vele Guyanezen uitgebleven. De overheid had behalve extra politie ook vele militairen ingeschakeld om de orde te handhaven. Alhoewel de eerste officiële uitslagen pas op woensdag worden verwacht, is de zittende regeringspartij PPP onder leiding van de huidige president Bharat Jagdeo overtuigd van de overwinning. Hij nam het op tegen zijn grote rivaal van de PNC, Robert Corbin.


Guyana heeft een zeer gewelddadig aanloop gekend naar deze verkiezing toe. Nog geen maand geleden werden vier medewerkers van de redactie van Kaiture News in koele bloede doodgeschoten door zwaar bewapende mannen. Twee weken geleden werd een bank overvallen op de grensplaats Corriverton, vlak aan de Corantijnrivier.  De Guyaneze politie sloeg hard toe en verschillende voortvluchtige bendeleden werden zonder pardon doodgeschoten. Eerder dit jaar kwam de populaire Guyanese minister van lanbouw Satyadeoh Sawh om het leven door een aanslag.


De verkiezingen zijn bijgewoond door een groot aantal buitenlandse waarnemers, waaronder het Jimmy Carter instituut. Uit voorzorg voor gewelddadigheden had onder andere de Verenigde Staten op Suriname een beroep gedaan voor assistentie bij eventuele evacuatie van Amerikaanse burgers via district Nickerie. Suriname heeft deze dagen extra grenstroepen in stellingen gebracht aan de Corantijnrivier.  Ook de Back-Track route is voor enkele dagen gesloten.


De verkiezingen van 2001 had een zeer gewelddadige verloop, als gevolg van onenigheid over de uitslag. Het Jimmy Carter Instituut speelde toen een belangrijke bemiddelingsrol om de legitimiteit van de uitslag te bekrachtigen en de strijdende partijen enigszins  te kalmeren. Velen houden daarom nog even vinger aan pols over de reactie van de verliezende partij na de officiële uitslag van deze verkiezingen.

Lees verder:

Peaceful poll surprise

Sharief Khan (Guyana Chronicles)

Georgetown (Guyana) - THE peace and calm that dominated voting in yesterday’s general and national elections throughout the country was holding up to midnight last night in a surprise departure from the tensions and fears that gripped the nation in the 1992, 1997 and 2001 elections. “It’s odd, it’s not usual”, a seasoned international observer associated with the last three elections here said last night about the absence of any street disturbances and the prevailing calm some five hours after voting ended.

PNCR Leader Robert Corbin casts his vote. PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo after voting yesterday.
AFC presidential candidate Raphael Trotman votes. JFAP Leader C.N. Sharma after voting.

Streets around the city and in many parts of the coast remained deserted, even more quiet than a Good Friday when national life almost grinds to a standstill, and steel and other shutters thrown up on the display fronts and facades of stores and other business places against looters stood silent testimony to the fears spawned by previous elections.

Soldiers deployed on the streets for the first time with police on a polling day, were maintaining patrols last night and the security forces will be maintaining a close watch for several days yet.

The vote count which began as fears eased about post-polling tensions and the violence that threatened to derail the three elections since the historic October 5, 1992 polls, was underway as the Guyana Chronicle went to press and first results are not expected until later today.

The calm, orderliness and almost incident-free polling day came amid signs of a lower than expected voter turnout but Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials last night said they were awaiting more data before giving turnout percentages.

Security, GECOM and party officials reported no major incident during the 12 hour polling that began at 06:00 h and the pattern of high voter turnout early in the morning and a slowing off during the day was reported around the country.

Early morning rain in Georgetown and other parts of the coast did not deter voters with GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally reporting at a 14:00 h press conference that some 55 per cent of the electoral roll of 492,000 had voted by then.

Long queues of voters were not evident as in the last three elections and GECOM officials put this down to the higher number of polling stations set up for elections 2006.

With a successful elections almost under his belt, Surujbally looked relaxed last night as he and other top GECOM officials buckled down to the arduous task of getting the elections results out to an anxious electorate.

Final results are expected by tomorrow but observers were projecting an easy win for incumbent President Bharrat Jagdeo and his People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).

PPP/C General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar last night reflected some concern about the “mixed” voter turnout even in his party’s traditional strongholds but was confident about victory.

There was no immediate post-polling reaction from the PPP/C’s main challenger, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) although party leader, Mr. Robert Corbin was upbeat and in good spirits when he voted early yesterday morning.

The newcomer Alliance For Change (AFC) was last night threatening to release the results of an exit poll it said it had commissioned by “internationally renowned professionals” if it continued to be excluded from the vote count.

In a statement, the fledgling party said voting went “relatively well despite the continuance of problems with our polling agents being given access to their respective polling stations and to information.”

“In the afternoon a further problem developed surrounding our polling agents being informed once again that the absence of a letter of accreditation would deny them the ability to participate in the observation of the count”, the party claimed.

The AFC said that as of 17:30 h, all data from the exit poll it had commissioned had been received and was “being studied and compared by our analysts before any statements are made.”

“We are expecting that the GECOM results will be comparable with our results…The leadership of the AFC will conduct itself responsibly by not making declarations of results from the exit poll at this time. However, if the pattern of exclusion continues, and our polling agents are disallowed from observing the count as is becoming a distinct possibility, then we feel that we will have little choice but to issue the results of our exit poll”, it said.

As word of an exit poll spread during voting yesterday, GECOM broadcast repeated statements advising the public that only the commission was legally authorised to release official elections results.

Reiterating its threat, the AFC said it considers the exit poll, “being conducted by internationally renowned professionals, to be its only shield against a manipulation of the results, and will raise it unhesitatingly in its defence.”

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

Neil Marks

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.

Mr. Donald Ramotar

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.


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.


Update: 28-08-2006

Aanloop verkiezingen Guyana gewelddadig

Henk Hendriks

Georgetown (Guyana)  - Op 28 augustus zijn er algemene en regionale verkiezingen in Guyana. Naar het schijnt wordt het een tweestrijd tussen de regerende People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) en de People's National Congress/Reform (PNC/R). De partijen weerspiegelen de verdeeldheid tussen het Hindoestaanse en de Creoolse bevolkingsdeel. De opkomende Alliance for Change (AFC) belooft interraciale politiek. In de weken voorafgaand aan de verkiezingen wordt Guyana geteisterd door een golf van crimineel geweld.

Middle Street in Georgetown, Guyana

De straten van Georgetown liggen er op 23 augustus rustig bij. Niets wijst op de nadering van een politieke krachtmeting. Hier en daar zijn de lantaarnpalen bescheiden beplakt met pamfletten en steekt er een vlaggetje van de regerende PPP/C naar buiten. Maar voor de rest schijnt het leven z'n normale gang te gaan. Overleven is trouwens beter op z'n plaats. Op de Stabroek Market en de hosselplaatsen eromheen komt de armoede van Georgetown je schrijnend tegemoet. Ook de buitenplaatsen rond de stad geven een rommelige en verpauperde aanblik. Halverwege de weg van The Cheddie Jagan International Airport naar Georgetown doemt plotseling een ruim opgezet woningbouwproject op. Zelfstandige middle class woningen, bescheiden maar voor Guyanese maatstaven riant.

"These are the primaries", roept Noël, m'n taxichauffeur. Ik kijk vragend op. Hij grijnst. Zijn "Primaries" zijn niet de toekomstige bewoners van deze huizen, maar de bevoorrechte zakenlui en projectontwikkelaars die het land in handen hebben. Hij mompelt de naam van Roger Kahn, verdacht van grootschalige criminaliteit en enkele weken gelden via Suriname doorgespeeld aan de Amerikaanse Justitie. Even verderop komen we langs de bouwplaats van Guyana's nationale trots: het nieuwe stadion. Het moet zo te zien een gigantisch complex worden met een internationaal zakencentrum. "Politics", snuift Noël schamper. De inwoners van Guyana hebben over hun volksvertegenwoordigers en bewindslieden een hartgrondig cynisme ontwikkeld. Al decennia lang wordt de politiek beheerst door het evenwicht tussen de Hindoestaanse PPP/C en de creoolse PNC/R. Anders dan in Suriname lijken er weinig alternatieven te zijn. Maar deze verkiezingen kunnen een doorbraak zijn voor interraciale politiek. De derde partij in het land, The Alliance for Change, eist op 23 augustus alvast de tweede plaats op. Ze doet dat op grond van een peiling een week eerder.

Propaganda 's Avonds komt op televisie het nieuwe stadion opnieuw in beeld. Omringd door buigende en klappende ingenieurs beklimt president Bharrat Jagdeo de tribune in aanbouw. Het is een propagandafilm van de PPP/C. Ook krijgt Jagdeo dezelfde avond op twee zenders een uur gratis zendtijd. In een fluweelzacht interview mag hij zijn beleid uitleggen. Het monopolie van de propaganda lijkt in handen te zijn van de regerende PPP/C. Paginagroot en in schreeuwende kleuren presenteert de partij in de Guyana Chronicle en de Stabroek News het Development Plan voor Guyana. De kiezer wordt "A brighter future for all" in het vooruitzicht gesteld, met training en opleidingsprogramma's voor de jeugd. Origineel is het niet, want oppositiepartij en grootste concurrent PNC/R wil dat ook. In de verkiezingsfolder "Yes to Youths" is deze partij van plan duizend nieuwe banen per jaar te creëren. "Employment is the main thing" had ook Noël me al verteld. Het is een dam tegen Pindaverkoper in de hoofdstad Georgetown de toenemende criminaliteit. De golf van geweld en gewapende misdaad van de laatste maanden drukt zwaar op de Guyanese samenleving. Ogenschijnlijk heeft het niets met de verkiezingen te maken. Het zijn bankovervallen en afrekeningen in het criminele circuit. Maar als op 8 augustus vier drukkers van de krant "Kaieteur News" worden vermoord, schuift de georganiseerde criminaliteit gevaarlijk in de richting van de politiek. De regerende PPP/C ziet in de moorden "een terroristische daad met de bedoeling angst en onveiligheid in de samenleving te creëren". En politiechef Henry Greene beschouwt de liquidatie als een aanslag tegen de journalistiek en de pers.

Pindaverkoper in de hoofdstad Georgetown

In de straten rond de Stabroek Market wordt intussen druk gepatrouilleerd. Politie en leger, zwaar bewapend met kogelvrije vesten. Het wordt er niet gezelliger op, maar deze verkiezingen moeten slagen. De naam van Guyana mag voor het oog van de wereld en in het kleinere verband van de Caricom niet te grabbel worden gegooid. Dat is de teneur van de artikelen en ingezonden stukken in de kranten. Ook de verkiezingswaarnemers van OAS en Caricom die één voor één in Georgetown neerstrijken worden streng bewaakt. De Surinaamse Ambassade in Georgetown adviseert Surinamers in Guyana om zich bij de ambassade te melden en de grens met Guyana wordt extra bewaakt. De komende dagen zal duidelijk worden of de naam van Guyana nog te redden is.

(Foto: Henk Hendriks)

Bharet Jagdeo   Robert Corbin

ppp vs pnc-r

Zetelverdeling vorige verkiezingen: 19 March 2001 National Assembly of Guyana election results

Alliances and parties Votes % Seats
People's Progressive Party/Civic (pres. B. Jagdeo) - website   53.1 34
People's National Congress/Reform (O. Corbin) - website   41.7 27
Guyana Action Party/Working People's Alliance   2.4 2
Rise Organise and Rebuild Guyana   0.9 1
The United Force   0.7 1
Justice for All Party   0.7 -
Guyana Democratic Party   0.4 -
National Front Alliance   0.1 -
Total (turnout 89.1%)     65
Source: PPP/Civic

Lees verder:

Guyana votes today (Aug 28 - 2006)

By Mark Ramotar (Guyana Chronicles)

THE Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) yesterday reassured that all the technical and administrative arrangements are in place for the holding of today’s national and regional elections in Guyana in a free, fair and transparent manner, which meets international best practice.

According to GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, these elections today mark another important milestone in Guyana’s history.

“Today each elector is given the opportunity to exercise his/her constitutional right to choose the political party of his/her choice, by voting, to manage the affairs of our country for the next five years,” Surujbally said in a statement yesterday.

He noted that the GECOM Secretariat staff has been working tirelessly with the Commission towards ensuring that all of the technical and administrative arrangements are in place according to Guyana’s electoral laws.

“A high level of commitment, professionalism and efficiency has been evident in preparation for these elections. This has resulted in the Commission reaching a satisfactory state of readiness which will witness GECOM delivering elections in a free, fair and transparent manner, which meets international best practice, and which I am confident will withstand international scrutiny,” Surujbally said.

He appealed to the electorate that as they go to their respective polling stations to cast their vote, they must reflect on the need for all Guyanese to contribute towards the conduct of peaceful and successful elections.

This should be an election which we could all look back on with a sense of ownership and pride in the knowledge that every one of us contributed towards the holding of elections that were transparent, and free from fear and intimidation, GECOM said.

GECOM also called on all citizens to go to the Polling Stations early and cast their votes.

“Thereafter, please return to your homes or other places of legitimate activity in a peaceful and normal manner,” the GECOM Chairman urged.

He noted that voters’ patience at the Polling Station is extremely important since it is a contributory factor to satisfactory management of the electoral process.

Accordingly, the Commission appealed to all electors to conduct themselves in a manner that assists Polling Day Officials including Party agents and security personnel.

After the Poll is closed at 18:00 h (6:00pm) today, it is GECOMs responsibility to count the ballots and declare the results.

Surujballys said this will be done by:-

** the display of Statements of Poll (SoPs) signed by the Presiding Officer and Party Agents (who observed the conduct of the Poll) being posted at a conspicuous place at each Polling Station;

** the declaration of the results for each Electoral District by its respective Returning Officer; and

** the declaration of the Official Results by the Chief Elections Officer.

In acknowledgement of the anxiety that is usually associated with any delay in the announcement of elections results, Surujbally said GECOM has developed and publicized a schedule for periodic announcements of the results as these come in and are verified.

He also emphasised that the Chief Election Officer is the only person legally authorized to announce the official results of the elections. “Please do not pay heed to results being publicized by anyone else,” he declared.

The Chairman also assured that the Guyana Elections Commission is committed to holding elections that are properly conducted in “a manner free from fear and anxiety”.

“We assure you that we have honoured our responsibilities regarding the preparations for the elections and we have set the machinery in place for the holding of successful elections,” he said.

The GECOM Chairman also called on all Political Parties and their respective supporters to conduct themselves in a manner that will not result in any elector being intimated, physically hurt or in any other way being prevented from or discouraged from voting on Election Day.

“In fact, we urge you to join GECOM in encouraging all registered electors to go to their respective Polling Stations and vote (today),” Surujbally charged.

“Let us pool our collective efforts towards the holding of successful elections (today) so that, afterwards, we could go about our individual lives with love, care and respect for each other regardless of ethnicity, political affiliation or allegiance,” the GECOM Chairman asserted.

Meanwhile, the Guyanese electorate are expected to come out in their tens of thousands today right across Guyana to vote and to exercise their franchise and democratic right.

At stake are the elections for a President, representatives for a 65-member House of Assembly and Regional Democratic Councils of a local government system in the geographical regions of the country.

The major political parties in today’s race were yesterday moving around the City and in various other locations in the country in a last minute attempt aimed at urging their supporters to come out and vote today. For the first time in history, the Army will, be out in the streets.

No polling place is relocated -GECOM The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has stated that rumours being circulated by telephone text messages and pamphlets as to last minute relocation of polling places should be ignored by voters.

A GECOM release yesterday said there are no changes in places of poll.

“Electors are advised to disregard any message about polling stations being relocated, or about any other matter associated with the management of the elections, unless such messages are coming from Mr. Gocool Boodhoo, Chief Election Officer,”GECOM said.

Business houses boarding up

Business houses in the downtown shopping area began boarding up their premises against the likelihood of disturbances in the capital.

Even though today is a public holiday, many business places took this precaution, including Republic Bank at its Camp Street Branch, Courts on High Street, Muneshwers on Water street and Gafoor’s on Regent Street.


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