Zero tolerance

Stabroek News
March 20, 2001

We had argued before that no election is perfect. Given the time and other constraints under which these elections were held there were inevitably some mistakes. But the conditions under which the elections would be held were eventually clearly and unanimously laid down by the Elections Commission. No one not on the final list could vote and there were several forms of identification allowed, including an oath of identity.

Inevitably, this would have meant that some persons would not have been able to vote who should have been on the list but were not. That was certainly regrettable but this was the best that could have been done to avoid chaos and having laid down the ground rules the Commission should have stuck to them. And the political parties should have co-operated with their rulings, especially as their own representatives on the commission had been involved.

Be that as it may, the overall conduct of the election was considered satisfactory by the chief election officer as announced at his press conference and the opinion of the observers and many voters to whom we had spoken by 9.30 pm last night when this editorial was written was that the elections had been conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner. Most polling officials were polite, efficient and well organised.

Because of the fact that polling continued at some stations well after the original deadline of 6.00 p.m. the count was expected to be somewhat delayed and so the full unofficial results may not be available by midday today as had originally been hoped. However, hopefully, a large number of results will be announced starting from around midnight.

Whatever the results most Guyanese will hope for certain outcomes. First that whoever wins will accept that this is a sensitive moment and that new initiatives must be taken to show the desire for inclusiveness. It will also be hoped that the loser will accept defeat with good grace.

Elections in Guyana are unbearably tense. Too much is at stake. At the end of the day it is clear that dialogue must continue to seek new systems and lasting solutions. The society cannot continue to endure these stresses and strains and the resulting divisions.