American Observers Threatened over Guyana Election Results

The government is also publicly attacking American election observers from groups like the American Chamber of Commerce Guyana (ACC), in an effort to discredit and possibly void the election.

Cathy Hughes, the Telecommunications Minister, has targeted American observers in public media posts, and has played the “Russia Card” – claiming that the Russians are conspiring with the Americans to steal the election on behalf of the PPP. “Have the Russians influenced our elections process? Did they interfere? Why was AmCham [American Chamber of Commerce] …seen having dinner with these persons?  Americans do not accept this in their country why should we here in Guyana?” stated Hughes.

The election is especially important because of the discovery of massive oil reserves off the Guyana coast.  Exxon began pumping oil just three weeks ago, and the country’s GDP is expected to increase by 400 percent over the next four years.

APNU is supported mainly by Afro-Guyanese community, while the opposition PPP is heavily backed by the Indo-Guyanese population. Granger’s government had a razor-thin one seat majority in parliament, which it lost – 15 months ago - when one parliament member, Charrandas Persaud, supported a Motion of Non-Confidence to topple Granger’s government. President David Granger of APNU refused to accept that vote and leave, until ordered to by the Caribbean Court of Justice – Guyana’s Supreme Court.

International election monitors, including observers from the Carter Center in Atlanta, urged the two major parties to accept the election results.

Stabroek News reports that nine of Guyana’s ten electoral districts have officially declared the results in their districts, and the opposition PPP is leading the ruling APNU in those districts by more than 51,000, with the results of only one district, Region4 - Demerara-Mahaica, which includes the capital Georgetown, yet to be tallied and certified.

The national election results have not yet been announced, but since voting in the Regional Election typically mirrors voting in the General Elections, it means that the APNU-AFC will have to defeat the PPP in Region 4- Demerara-Mahaica, the one district with results yet to be certified,by more than 51,000 votes in order to overtake the PPP.

Analysts say that the only way this could happen is for supporters of the ruling APNU-AFC to engage in massive election fraud.

In Georgetown, the country’s capital and an APNU stronghold, bustling neighborhoods were largely deserted for second day, and parents kept their children from school, as fears of violence were growing.

Business organizations, the PPP, and the international monitors have urged the Guyana Elections Commission to announce the national results in order to reduce tensions, but full results are not expected until Friday.

PPP officials worry that the additional day or two would allow APNU to inflate the number of pro-government votes in APNU strongholds in Georgetown.  “When it takes long for these results to be released, it creates a kind of unease,” PPP executive member Frank Anthony told AFP.

Guyana has a population of about 750,000, and is bordered by Brazil, Venezuela, and Suriname. It is estimated that more than one million Guyanese have emigrated to North America and the Caribbean since independence. There are over 900,000 Guyanese-Americans in the United States – mostly in New York and Florida. President Donald Trump’s home county of Queens, N.Y. is now over 15 percent Guyanese.

The parliament, or National Assembly, has 65 members. Each party presents a list of 65 candidates to the voters, and voters vote for the party’s list, not for an individual candidate. The seats are allocated in accordance with the proportion of the vote each party has received.

Guyana has been a small and cash-poor country, but this time around the election is being watched more closely because the winner will be in control of a coming oil boom which will transform Guyana. In December Exxon began commercial exploitation of a huge 2016 oil discovery off the coast, and production is expected to grow from 52,000 barrels per day to over 750,000 by 2025.

The International Monetary Fund anticipates that the Guyanese economy will grow by a staggering 85 percent this year owing to the oil exploitation. This will be the biggest growth of any country worldwide.

The gross domestic product per capita is going to grow substantially and, well-invested, these resources can bring solid social benefits, and solid economic growth for Guyana,” Venezuelan economist Jose Toro Hardy, an expert in oil and gas, told AFP.