The March 19 elections

What the People Say
Stabroek News
March 26, 2001

We asked the man/woman-in-the-street this week to share their views on the electoral process and the court action taken by the People's National Congress REFORM challenging the swearing in of the President. Their views follow.

Terrence McAdam: `First of all I think that the Guyana Elections Commission did a splendid job for the short period of time it had been tasked to conduct the elections. However, I think that the system needs some improvement which the Chairman of the Commission Major General Joe Singh himself highlighted. Now that the results have been announced, which I think was fair, I think that we should stick with it. We need to go forward as a nation. In every elections people will be disenfranchised. This happens even in the biggest democracies. The voters' list will never be 100% accurate but at least it would have been adequate enough to at least reflect the will of the people. In relation to the court action taken by the PNC/R I have no problem with it. I have confidence in the judiciary and I believe that justice will be done. In the interest of the nation, I think that the government and the opposition must come together to move this nation forward. In this elections we must not see ourselves as winners and losers. There are no losers it was just a decision the Guyanese people made. We need in this country a good government and a strong opposition to ensure a stable economy.'

Robert Henry - pensioner: `I think that there were flaws and the elections have been rigged once again. I think that there were deliberate attempts to confuse people on elections day by ensuring that some people do not vote by placing them at polling stations out of their districts. In addition the results were not given to the public by polling stations and in a timely manner so that people could know how they voted. I have a problem with the bulk results they gave us. I agree with the court action taken by the PNC (People's National Congress)/REFORM because we as a nation should not condone conceit and corruption.'

David Mootoo - self-employed: `I think the Elections Commission did a credible job in the short space of time and considering too that the 1997 staff of mainly pro-People's National Congress supporters was not changed. So I cannot understand why the PNC REFORM is accusing the PPP/Civic of engineering flaws in the electoral process and manipulating the results when the process was managed by mainly PNC supporters. In addition the Commission is made up of representatives of all the parties and the Chairman is neutral. There was nothing he has done at any time to show that he favours one party against another. In any elections, there must be some discrepancies. The process could not be 100% foolproof. The time when elections will be 100% perfect is yet to come. I agree with the conclusions that it reached the international benchmark.'

Schon Corbin - cane cutter: `The part which I dislike totally in the whole elections is not with the Guyana Elections Commission but it is with the voters themselves. People voted along racial lines as usual. As far as I am concerned elections in Guyana is not about issues, and the best plans for the country's development, it is about racism. These elections prove it. I believe that the whole elections process from beginning to end was flawed. I cannot see why with all these computers these days there were so many mistakes with people's names not on the list and people not being properly identified. I think the human errors were deliberate.'

Troy Thomas - private sector employee: `No matter what happens and whoever becomes president or which party goes into government, God is in charge. No one can be a leader of a nation without being appointed by God in spite of what the votes look like. Remember God appointed Moses as leader of the Jews while they were in slavery and today the Jews are a great nation. Even if the elections process was corrupt or there were a few persons -- even they have a role to play -- who corrupted the process, my belief is that at the end of it all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Those who altered the process to further their benefit, God will turn it around to his glory eventually.'

Gavin Van Veen - sailor: `I know for sure that some people had problems on elections day. I was travelling across the Berbice River on my way to Corentyne that day and I spoke with a resident who was returning to Berbice to vote. It was confusing for her because her name was not on the list in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) and a check showed that her name was in Linden. So she travelled to Linden to the polling station where her name was but when she got there they told her that she had to go back to Berbice. The woman, who appeared to be agitated and frustrated wanted to vote and had spent quite some money in her attempt to exercise her franchise. Again things have deteriorated and it is frustrating to all Guyanese. As soon as the court settles this matter I think that Mr Hoyte and Mr Jagdeo should come to a compromise to take this country forward. The bickering is frustrating and it is the small man who is affected not those up there.'

Lloyd Thomas - machine operator: `I had no problems. This was the second time I was voting and my name was on the list and I was properly identified. Even though I voted late in the day I recall that there were a few angry persons milling around the polling stations because they had been unable to vote. The aftermath of the elections for me is turning out to be frustrating. I think the court action right now is necessary to go through the process of clarifying that the elections reflected the will of the people. I agree that we await the court decision.'

Desmond Morian - supervisor: `The court action is a reminder of what happened in 1997 when the PNC took the Guyana Elections Commission to court challenging the outcome of the elections. From the beginning of the campaign the PPP/Civic had no doubt that it was going to win the elections because of the mass support that the party received. I think that GECOM did a commendable job in the short time it was given to hold elections. I don't think that there was any need for a court action. It is only creating fear and tension. Anyway the court action and the fact that both President Jagdeo and the Elections Commission chairman declaring that they will await the outcome of the court action is good for the country and democracy. The PPP/Civic is not afraid of the court's ruling.'