CHANGE COMES TO GUYANA

Presidential Candidate of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) David Granger displays his inked finger after voting at the Enterprise Primary School Georgetown Guyana, Monday, May 11, 2015.
Associated Press / Adrian Narine

GEORGETOWN, Guyana-When Guyanese last voted in general elections in late 2011, the main opposition A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) had made some glaring administrative and logistical mistakes that they corrected on Monday and the results are different this time much to the chagrin of a hapless People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Instead of being confined to the opposition benches for the next five years, presidential candidate David Granger, 69, will sometime during this or next week be sworn in as the country’s next president, replacing the lackluster Donald Ramotar as head of state of the Caribbean Community’s largest member state three years into his five-year term.

Nearly 570,000 people were eligible to vote in the polls that had pitted the Indo-dominated PPP against an energized, seemingly well funded and confident multiracial coalition that this time included the upstart Alliance For Change party.

The two now call themselves the APNU-AFC coalition that was ironically consummated only on Valentine’s Day 2015. It leaders campaigned across the country as well as in the North American Diaspora to overwhelming support from Guyanese of all race groups culminating with a 71.5 percent turnout on polling day that ensure it crossed the line.

Together, the two have vanquished the PPP after 23 consecutive years in office, marked by the most glaring and persistent allegations of corruption, graft and nepotism possibly ever made against a CARICOM trade group member in recent decades.

But even as the alliance is preparing to form a brand new umbrella government, the PPP is demanding recounts in some key administrative regions saying it is unprepared to concede defeat to the opposition until verification.

On Tuesday afternoon, Granger, Moses Nagamootoo, his prime ministerial candidate and other key coalition leaders called a press conference to declare victory and put pressure on the elections commission, contending that with 88 percent of the statements of polls from voting centers already tallied, it had amassed 182,000 votes to the PPP’s 157,000 giving it a comfortable 24,000 vote lead or about four parliamentary seats.

Granger, a retired army general and respected historian, suggested that even if the PPP were to win all the remaining votes, it will still be unable to surpass the coalition’s lead as some of those votes will also come from coalition strongholds.

“There is no way that the PPP can close this gap that we have opened up,” he said, flanked by other leaders. “We have a comfortable lead.”

The coalition is banking on the fact that unlike 2011, when some of its polling day agents had failed to transmit close of polling results back to party command centers in a timely manner, that aspect was covered comprehensively this time allowing APNU-AFC to confidently declare victory less than 24 hours after.

If its declaration holds true, it would mean that this is the third CARICOM member state or associate member whose electorate has kicked out a government this year. Those in St. Kitts and Anguilla have done so already. Suriname votes on May 25. Trinidad is expecting an announcement anytime now and St. Vincent must be held before year end. On June 8, electors in the British Virgin Island will vote in an unusually heavy year of polling in the region.

Ramotar has lost his presidency only three and a half years into his tenure because the AFC and the APNU had dared to call for a parliamentary vote of no confidence knowing they had a one-seat majority. Instead he dissolved the house and taunted them to face the electorate. The rest is now history.

Coalition executive Raphael Trotman, Rupert Roopnaraine, Granger and Moses Nagamootoo, the prime ministerial candidate making the announcement.
Photo by Bert Wilkinson

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