PPP/C chief scrutineer condemns intimidation of party agents

Stabroek News
March 21, 2001

PPP/Civic chief scrutineer, Dr Bheri Ramsarran yesterday condemned actions on the part of opposition supporters, which led to his party's polling agents being held hostage at certain polling places in South Georgetown after Monday's polls.
Speaking with reporters at Freedom House, Ramsarran said unruly elements, using the cover of darkness, intimidated PPP/C polling agents and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials in these areas and prevented their safe egress from polling stations.
Ramsarran said incidents of violence against PPP/C supporters were also reported and specific cases were cited and supported by Health Minister, Henry Jeffrey.
Central High School, the Municipal Centre in South Georgetown and the Lions Den in the same area were named as polling stations where agents were held hostage. Ramsarran said the party had to mount a rescue effort to get these persons out and to seek the assistance of the police in the process.
Ramsarran told reporters that after 6.00 p.m. on Monday, a small band of anti-PPP/C supporters approached various polling stations in South Georgetown and began to intimidate the party agents and polling officers. He said that many of the party scrutineers stood their ground but had to be rescued by other party officials. He said that at Central High School, a female party agent was not being allowed to leave and even the arrival of Minister Clinton Collymore failed to change this. The police, Ramsarran said, had to be called in. He claimed that the same vehicles with the same persons were moving from station to station to cause trouble.
Ramsarran said that apart from those ugly incidents and the few hiccups experienced earlier during polling, the election process was peaceful. He felt that the incidents after dark had interrupted the flow of the results to the Elections Commission. Preliminary results were to be known by noon but this had to be pushed back.
Jeffrey said a Mr James from the party had to be taken to the hospital for treatment because of injuries he sustained at the hands of anti-PPP/C agents when he attempted to get party agents out from polling booths. His cellular phone was taken away.
Jeffrey said it was very frightening.
Jeffrey cited Polly's Nursery in south Georgetown as one of the areas where intimidation also took place and he said that the police on site were also intimidated until reinforcements arrived.