The long wait

Stabroek News
March 21, 2001

The election results have been coming in slowly but at 8:00 pm last night Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodoo gave the assurance that everything was in order but explained that they were being extremely careful in checking and double checking everything. No one can quarrel with that. In particular the assurance was welcome that all the statements of poll for Region Four had been collected and were being processed.

It would seem that most of the results received from the Returning Officers should be checked and announced today and it should be possible by this evening to have a good idea of who has won, though the official results will not be announced before tomorrow.

President Jimmy Carter pronounced the elections free and fair. There were some minor hiccups but that did not affect his conclusion that generally the poll was conducted efficiently and peacefully. It was known in advance that some voters not on the list would not be able to vote. That affected voters throughout the country and thus all the political parties. The Elections Commission, which contains senior representatives from the parties, had decided to go ahead on that basis on a mature consideration of all the circumstances. It was overall a fair and reasonable decision and though it was certainly regrettable and very frustrating that a certain number of voters in each region were unable to vote, that was the best that could be done in the circumstances. The Commission had operated throughout under severe time pressures and Chairman Joe Singh was the first to admit that for the future, there needed to be improvement in many areas, including above all the preparation well in advance of a reliable voters list. Ideally, an official census is needed to provide a reliable database for this and other exercises and that should be a priority for the new government.

So today, or at the latest tomorrow we should know who our new President will be and we should have a fairly precise idea of the composition of parliament. We repeat what has been said by ourselves and others many times before. This is a time for statesmanship, for understanding and for forgiveness.

There are divisions in our society but we are all Guyanese trying to build a nation in peace of which we can all be proud.

The winner should make some important gestures in the area of governance and should offer the hand of friendship. The loser should grasp that hand and enter into dialogue. Defeat should be gracefully accepted. Let us all stride forward on a new path in which no one feels excluded or afraid, in which we can see each other as brothers, not as enemies, in which we can be proud of each other's achievements and have respect for each other. Our sportsmen have shown us the way.