'Guyanese people have won great victory' - Hoyte

Stabroek News
January 19, 1998

Leader of the People's National Congress Desmond Hoyte told a large gathering at an open air religious service at the Square of the Revolution last evening that the PNC and people of Guyana have "won a great victory" in gaining the attention of CARICOM to enquire into the December 15 electoral process.

He told the gathering of about 20,000 people that "we got CARICOM and not any Private Sector Commission or the Elections Commission" to make an enquiry into the whole electoral process.

Hoyte said that CARICOM will investigate the movement of ballot boxes and unsigned statements of polls and returns among other "shenanigans". Findings from the investigations, he said, will also be used by the PNC in filing an elections petition.

Hoyte also said that the PNC is preparing to file an elections peition but according to the Constitution must do so 28 days after the elections declarations have been gazetted in the Official Gazette. More than one month after the elections have been held the results have not yet been gazetted, he noted.

Claiming that presiding and returning officers were unto Saturday being asked to sign statement of polls, he said that one elections officer has objected to signing and would be swearing to an affidavit on the issue today.

Meanwhile the leaders of two of the smaller parties that contested the general elections, have hailed the CARICOM-brokered agreement reached between the PPP/Civic and the PNC as a step in the right direction.

Manzoor Nadir of The United Force (TUF) congratulated President Janet Jagan and PNC leader Hoyte, for reaching agreement containing proposals with which they could live even though "they would be a hard sell to their supporters."

In an invited comment to the Stabroek News, Nadir said that his party would have no problem with as thorough an audit as possible. He said too that his party has always supported constitutional reform and had no problems with returning to the polls in another three years.

Nadir noting the dialogue between the two parties, even though conducted through an intermediary, said that it was heartening that they reached agreement on common ground which would return the society to normalcy.

Leader of the Good and Green Guyana (GGG), also welcomed the agreement but noted that if the suggestions that had been made by TUF and the GGG as well as to a certain extent by the Alliance for Guyana had been heeded, the pain caused by the developments of the past fortnight could have been avoided.

Green noted that the GGG and TUF had called for the vote verification process to be continued and for those ballot boxes over which there were irreconcilable differences to be opened. He noted that their recommendations had been ignored by both major parties and the Elections Commission.

In a further comment on the audit which is one of the central themes of the agreement, Green said that a condition of the audit should require all those with information about the December 15, poll to make it available to those persons carrying out the investigations.

In relation to constitutional reform provided for in the agreement, the GGG leader stressed that the reforms which would be made should be underpinned by the appropriate moral and ethical standards. Green reiterated too that the process for constitutional review offered the opportunity for dealing head-on with the problem of ethnic security rather than in a cosmetic fashion.

He noted that the CARICOM mission had echoed what the GGG had been pointing out for some time and stressed the need for the review to deal with facts rather than perceptions of those facts.