PPP rejects AFC claim to Region 10 seat
Stabroek News
November 25, 2006

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The People's Progressive Party (PPP) has rejected the claim to a Region 10 seat by the Alliance for Change (AFC).

Party General Secretary Donald Ramotar at a press briefing yesterday said his party is looking forward to its day in court but is of the view that it has received more votes than the AFC in that region, a position which he said is based on records the party received and on the official reports to the Guyana Elec-tions Commission (GECOM) by its staff in Region 10.

"The results of the elections in Region 10 were declared by the Clerk on behalf of the returning officer, who was ill at that time. That declaration showed that the AFC received 3,166 votes and the PPP/C obtained 3,189 votes," he said.

Ramotar, reading his party's statement, added that this declaration was signed off by GECOM and the political parties' counting agents who were present at the time. "And it was on this basis that the chief election officer made his oral declaration on August 31, 2006," Ramotar added.

According to the PPP, when the returning officer resumed her duties she made another declaration which showed that the AFC got 3188 votes and the PPP/C received 3273 votes.

"For the AFC and some other band-waggoners to claim that they are entitled to the seat after such a long lapse must be treated with more than a grain of salt," the PPP general secretary contended.

The party also rejected the position that some of the boxes were not counted when the declaration was made

Ramotar also said he did not believe that Justice For All Party Leader Chandra Narine Sharma had any basis to claim any other seat other than the regional seats he has already received. A recent assessment for the PNCR-1G had suggested that Sharma had won a seat at the expense of the PPP/C.

The AFC on November 17 filed a petition challenging the election results, contending that it received enough votes in Region 10 for an additional parliamentary seat. After a month of ventilating concerns to the elections commission over the vote count, the party said it got no response and was left with no other option but to go to court.

The petition was filed in the name of the party's Region 10 candidate, Walter Melville, who said that the AFC gained 3,321 votes in the Region, 48 more than the PPP/C, which was awarded the geographic constituency seat for the Region. As a result, he is asking that the court find that the polls in the district were not lawfully conducted or might have been affected by an unlawful act or omission, resulting in the need for parliamentary seats to be reallocated. Alterna-tively, he is seeking a declaration that the number of valid votes that were cast differs from the votes used to allocate the seats in the National Assembly, making it necessary for the elections commission to do a review.

Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodoo is named as a respondent in the AFC petition, along with representatives for the parliamentary parties.

Prior to filing this lawsuit the AFC at a press conference had implored the PPP to 'do the decent thing and voluntarily relinquish' a seat in Parliament for the constituency of Region 10.

The request by AFC was also made against the background, that if they had to resort to the litigation process, it could take as long as three years before its is resolved.

The AFC had said that from the very inception it had raised the issue with the proper authorities and after two postponements a requested meeting with Boodoo was finally granted at which he told them that there was nothing that he could have done "at that late stage as the results had been gazetted on October 19, 2006."

Meanwhile no date has been set as yet for the hearing of this matter.