APNU+AFC paying U.S. lobby firm on the basis that election was ‘free, fair, & transparent’

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By Ravin Singh

The APNU+AFC Coalition, which has contracted a U.S. lobby firm to push its case in the United States, had presented documents, filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, admitting that the March 02 elections were free and fair.

The Coalition, with the recount showing it had lost the elections by a combined total of 24, 512 votes, has now changed from its position completely, now claiming that the elections were so badly conducted that it should be quashed.

In a document submitted to the U.S Department of Justice on March 31, 2020, the APNU+AFC had informed the Washington lobby firm it hired that there were no irregularities in the voting process in Guyana’s March 2 General and Regional Elections.

“It is therefore, reasonable to conclude then that the voting process was not fraudulent,” page 11 of the party’s dossier reads.

President David Granger heads the Coalition. On Sunday, he claimed that allegations of thousands of persons impersonating the dead and migrated to vote are what prompted the move to the recount. But that was not the case.

In fact, the dossier sent by his own Coalition did not make any such claim and it was submitted long after the recount was agreed to.

The recount was agreed to on March 14 and it was agreed to by the Preisdent under the clear grounds of the ruling of the Chief Justice that the Returning Officer for District Four, Clairmont Mingo, had breached the country’s electoral laws.

The Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had committed to the recount if the process by Mingo was not satisfactory to all parties.

A lobbying company, JJ&B LLC, had been hired by the APNU+AFC in a push back against growing concern in the U.S over the party’s insistence that it had won the March 02 elections, though the vote count in the largest electoral district was deemed fraudulent.

To support its March 31 claim that voting was “free, fair, and transparent,” the Coalition and the lobbying firm referenced numerous election stakeholders, who had publicly supported this view, in the dossier.

Among those stakeholders were: The Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh; The Commonwealth; the Carter Centre; the Organisation of American State (OAS); the European Union (EU); the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and the local Private Sector Commission (PSC).

“The various comments from the observer missions convey that the voting process in the elections was well managed, peaceful, proceeded largely without incident and was free, fair and transparent,” APNU+AFC told Washington in the dossier.

However, after the attempt to rig the election in favour of the APNU+AFC was exposed, and the national recount commenced, the Coalition backpedalled and began to pile unsubstantiated and unproven allegations of voter fraud on Elections Day.

The party has, without any evidence, claimed that thousands of votes were cast in the names of dead people and citizens who were out of Guyana on Elections Day.

On that basis, the Coalition party wants the elections vitiated.

But least 80 individuals who the party falsely claimed were either out of the country or dead on Elections Day have come forward denying those claims through the mainstream media, social media, and opposition parties.

In a bizarre twist, President David Granger asserted last weekend that the APNU+AFC had “abundant evidence” of electoral fraud and that was why it agreed to the national recount in March.

“There is abundant evidence that certain persons or parties or agents or elements tried to manipulate the outcome by committing some errors, well not errors, deliberately committing certain actions in order to get an outcome in their favour. And this is why we had to have our recount,” the President said on June 12, during an interview on Benschop Radio 107.1FM with APNU+AFC activist Mark Benschop.

President Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo agreed to the recount on March 15 – the period the President claimed his party had knowledge of electoral fraud committed by the PPP.

However, 16 days after that agreement for the recount (on March 31), despite reportedly having knowledge and evidence of electoral fraud committed by the PPP, the APNU+AFC informed the U.S Government, by way of its dossier, that the voting process on March 2 was credible and transparent.

Local and international observers including the PSC, the OAS, the Carter Centre, the Commonwealth, Nelson Mandela’s Elders Group and foreign powers including the U.S, Britain, Canada and the 27-member European Union (EU) have urged parties to accept the results of the recount.

Although the APNU+AFC wants the elections vitiated, the President and Opposition Leader are on record agreeing to accept the outcome of the recount.

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