Preliminary poll results due today
PPP/C leading so far with 161,927 votes counted

Stabroek News
March 21, 2001

Chief Election Officer (ag), Gocool Boodoo, last night defended the manner in which the results of Monday's elections were trickling in from the Elections Commission, though this left fertile ground for the contending parties to pump up the expectations of their supporters.

With 161,927 votes counted out of 419,146 in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Ten, the PPP/Civic was leading with 89,186 votes, the PNC REFORM was next with 66,299 and GAP/WPA a distant third with 1,978 votes. Boodoo did not announce results for Regions One or Nine.

The slowness with which the results were being released prompted a statement from the PNC REFORM expressing disappointment in the commission's failure "to announce the preliminary results in a timely manner." The party said this was the cause of "a great deal of anxiety amongst the electorate.

"Moreover the manner of the presentation has made it difficult for electors to relate the results as published at their respective polling places with those they see on television."

It said that it was assessing the reports from its agents across the country and while it had not received all the reports it "remains very optimistic about the outcome. We therefore urge all Guyanese to remain calm".

In a statement issued yesterday as well, the Guyana Public Service Union, commenting on the tardiness with which the commission was releasing the results warned that "if not remedied urgently, it could lead to complete loss of confidence in the process and be a cause of disorderliness and disturbances.

"If this occurs the GPSU will hold the Guyana Elections Commission solely responsible for the consequences and untoward events."

Boodoo told reporters last night at the commission's media centre at the Hotel Tower that his office was taking pains to ensure that the results it announced accurately reflected those submitted to him by the returning officers from the ten regional constituencies.

He explained that one reason for the delay was the late submission of statements of poll from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six. Also, he said that recounts had been demanded by the PPP/Civic at polling stations at Parika/Lookout and Goed Fortuin in Region Three; Rosignol and Bath, West Coast Berbice in Region Five and Belvedere in Region Six.

These problems caused Boodoo to cancel press briefings at 8:00 am and noon yesterday to, according to Hugh Cholmondeley, the media consultant to the commission, concentrate on processing the results from the ten districts and particularly those for Region Four which includes Georgetown.

Cholmondeley also said that the commission's timetable for announcing the unofficial preliminary results at 6:00 pm still held. However, Boodoo said that this would now be pushed back to today with the returns for Region Four expected to be submitted today.

Another problem which plagued the commission in getting the results out, according to Cholmondeley, was the failure of the cell phone system as a result of it being overloaded when the presiding officers tried to report their results.

As a result, Cholmondeley said, with the statements of poll beginning to arrive "thick and fast", Boodoo was concentrating on getting out the results based on information from the statements of poll.

Boodoo noted that the statements of poll had been posted up outside the polling stations and the results were already in the public domain. But he said that because of the requirements of the law, the secretariat was required to ensure that the results reflected the information submitted on the statements of poll.

Boodoo also said that Elections Commission Chairman, Major General Joe Singh was concerned with the slowness with which the commission was releasing the results to the public.

Cholmondeley also said last night that the results being transmitted from the media centre would continue to be updated through the night as the validated results were received from the commission.