Calls for Investigation into Election Violence in Guyana
Submitted by Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)
On Election Day, Monday, March 2, 2020, operatives of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) allegedly attempted to commit election fraud and violence. This attempt to engender destabilization was foiled. Moreover, twelve PPP mercenaries were arrested in the Alberttwown, Georgetown near polling stations at the St. Ambrose Primary School.
Guyana Police Force has confirmed receiving reports that the men allegedly colluded with an agent of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to steal Statements of Poll (SOP) from polling stations at St. Amborose Primary School. A SOP is the official record which states total votes cast in favor of the parties contesting the election.In the 1997 election, PPP agents were accused of changing vote tallies on SOPs. This triggered an international Commission of Inquiry. The 1997 elections results were subsequently vitiated due to constitutional breaches by then Supreme Court Justice Claudette Singh, who now heads the Elections Commission.
The men were caught with guns, ammunition and bulletproof vests, and were traveling in vehicles with fake license plates. The arms, ammunition and a vehicle were seized by Police. PPP agents accosted, harassed and intimidated voters in some areas. They allegedly followed voters, took their photographs and video taped their movement to and from polling stations. These are known voter suppression tactics. The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) condemns these illegal acts and calls for a comprehensive, criminal investigation of PPP’s Election Day activities.
Surveillance video captured the twelve men, who Police detained, at different times in the company of senior PPP officials on Monday in the vicinity of polling stations around Georgetown. This development is worrisome and reminiscent of the past. On April 9, 2001, eyewitnesses informed Police that they saw a security personnel located at the top floor, rear exit of Freedom House, the PPP’s Robb Street, Georgetown, headquarters, fire into a crowd of protesters, killing 43 year-old Donna McKinnon. No one was charged for McKinnon’s murder.
Meanwhile, Guyanese law enforcement and Immigration officials Monday allegedly detained and deported Brent Kartcher, a 73 year old Texas oil executive, Libyan national Marwan Al-Ayed and Vadim Kyrillov from Austria. The trio arrived in Guyana last Saturday in a private jet. They were taken into custody at the Georgetown Marriott Hotel where several PPP operative and expatriates have been frequenting for meetings.
CGID appeals for calm in the face of obvious incitement of violence and calls on the Guyana Police Force to take swift action against breaches of the peace, security and the law.