PNC dubs EAB report unscientific

By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
March 27, 1998

The People's National Congress (PNC) has slammed the report on the December 15 elections by the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) as unscientific.

The PNC said that the report's conclusions were based on data which was unscientific and questionable. It also called the report another piece of the EAB's anti-PNC propaganda.

But EAB Project Director, Lawrence Lachmansingh, said that the EAB stands by its report in spite of the PNC's comments and will want the CARICOM Audit Commission to determine the issues raised by the PNC. Only the results of the CARICOM Audit Commission would be able to definitively offer a judgement on the issues raised by the PNC, he said.

PNC General Secretary, Aubrey Norton, told a Congress Place press conference yesterday that the "EAB report draws conclusions and endorses the final results of the Elections Commission, having monitored only a little over a quarter of the [1,837] polling stations."

Claiming that the authors of the report did not allow their conclusions to be guided by the data which they purported to analyse, Norton said: "There is little wonder therefore that the head of the EAB mission, Mr Hugh Cholmondeley, in the foreword to the report falls short of endorsing the report and concluded that the final judgement on the quality of their work must now await the outcome of the audit.

"Mr Cholmondeley's non-endorsement of the report should be a cause for concern of the EAB."

Detailing "deficiencies" in the report, Norton stated that the EAB said that it had deployed a total of 571 observers generally in pairs to monitor 480 polling stations. However, he said that given that it used generally to mean "one more than half" of the 480 polling stations, "the EAB would have needed at least 721 persons to monitor the 480 polling stations."

Norton said that based on the report, much of the data on which it relied on was not data generated in the presence of EAB observers.

As such, he observed that "a lot of the information utilised was therefore not information for which the EAB observers could vouch since they were not integral to the process from which the data was derived."

Norton questioned too the pronouncement by the EAB report based on data derived from only 307 of the 1,837 statements of poll, the legal documents on which the results are authenticated.

He also referred to the monitoring of the polling stations in the hinterland, pointing out for the Barima/Waini (Region One), Cuyuni/Mazaruni (Region Seven), and Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu (Region Nine) electoral districts, the EAB observers did not amount to 50. He noted too the EAB's exclusion from monitoring the mobile polling stations in the hinterland areas. But Lachmansingh said that this referred to the Disciplinary Services vote and not the December 15 polling.

Norton said that as a result of this the EAB was unable to adequately monitor Regions One and Seven, where the PPP/Civic had increased its votes since the 1992 elections by 25.25 per cent and 14.02 per cent respectively.

Norton said that the report did not address the "crucial questions such as the inconsistent numbering of the ballot boxes."
He added that 96 of the 175 boxes, which were incorrectly numbered and represented 30,102 votes, "were in Regions One and Nine, areas, where the EAB, by its own data, was not able to observe properly, if at all."

Norton said: "This points to the lack of a comprehensive analysis of the December 15, elections."

Norton also said that there was no evidence to show that the EAB considered factors in the final equation such as the total number of voters on the preliminary voters list (PVL), the number of voters on the final voters list, the number of voter identification cards which had been produced and the number which had been distributed.

"The failure of the EAB to address these issues," Norton said, "results in the obfuscation of the fraudulent nature of the December 15 general elections."

As a consequence, Norton said, "an analysis of the report leads to the conclusion that it cannot claim to live up to the rigours of being a scientific document."

Norton also questioned the failure of the EAB to comment on the integrity of Elections Commission Chairman, Doodnauth Singh, in the light of its observation that Singh had declared the results of the presidential race when the PPP/Civic had secured less than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast.

To observations that a number of PNC sympathisers were among the EAB observers, Norton said that his comments about the EAB's partisanship referred to the controllers of the EAB who all had a history of antipathy to the PNC. It was these controllers, he said, who determined the stance of the EAB.

Norton also rejected the allegation in the report that the PNC's platform in the last two weeks of campaigning had degenerated into racial attacks on President Janet Jagan. He challenged the EAB to produce the evidence to support its allegation.

Norton recalled that remarks about President Jagan were no different to those the PNC had made when she was appointed Prime Minister following the death of president Cheddi Jagan. Then, he said, the PNC had mentioned the role President Jagan had played in continuing the divisions in the society and pointed to her writings as evidence of this claim.

He said that it had made no mention of her ethnicity, had always regarded her as a Guyanese but questioned whether her "style" was best suited to the politics of Guyana.

Norton said that in this regard the authors of the report had created their own constructs in order to achieve their objectives.

Reacting to this, Lachmansingh pointed out that the election campaign was monitored by EAB council members, regional supervisors and staff members. He said that it was from their reports that the conclusions were drawn and that it was not only the PNC that had been singled out for criticism.