Guyana: Pandemonium at polls
PANDEMONIUM BROKE OUT at a Georgetown polling station today and at the centre of it was the ruling party’s candidate and the man seeking to be the next president of Guyana, Donald Ramotar.
The trouble started around 7:31 a.m. when the People’s Progressive Party-Civic’s (PPP-C) presidential candidate Ramotar arrived, dressed in all-black and accompanied by security officials, and made his way on foot through the narrow and muddy road into the Plaisance Community High School.
Accompanied by his daughter Lisaveta and Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud, the 61-year-old candidate received no cheers but polite utterances of “good morning” by voters waiting outside as media photographers rushed into the polling room behind him. Suddenly, there was an uproar on the inside as a female Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) official repeatedly ordered the photographers to “go outside”.
As some reluctantly left, she slammed the door shut, causing people waiting in the queue for an hour or more to shout, “these doors should not be shut” and “They (the doors) should be open from six till six”. By then, media and GECOM officials had begun to shout at each other through the windows about being allowed in the polling room, since GECOM had officially stated previously that one person per media house should be allowed entry.
Their voices were soon joined by those of the waiting voters, some angrily hitting the door and repeating “we wan’ see wha’ goin’ on! No way! Open dis door!”
As the door was opened, media personnel re-entered and were herded behind the GECOM officers’ desk, while a puzzled-looking Ramotar, now joined by his wife Deolatchmee, tried to remain calm going through the voting process.
By the time he finally exited, Ramotar, sweating profusely and holding up his index finger to show the ink from his vote, was greeted by the angry crowd shouting, “Granger! Granger! Granger!” (the Opposition A Partnership for National Unity leader David Granger).
Afterwards, Ramotar told the DAILY NATION: “I think there was a big over-reaction on the part of the GECOM staff. They were making a hell of a lot of noise. I don’t know why.”