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  • People voting in Guyana

    People voting in Guyana | Photo: EFE

Published 6 March 2020

The country’s politics have remained divided along ethnic lines since Guyana’s 1966 independence from Britain.

The APNU + AFC coalition is hoping that the President's oath will occur "very quickly" and that a court will dismiss tomorrow the request for a court order that has prevented the announcement of the results in favor of its leader, David Granger. "We would like this matter resolved very quickly. So that there is calm, stability, moderation, we must make the President take an oath very quickly, and that his government can take the necessary measures to guarantee the peace, stability, and security of the people of this country," said Joseph Harmon, Secretary-General of UNPA + AFC, in a video statement.

In the meantime, Guyanese police on Friday attacked members of the opposition of the People's Progressive Party as they were protesting against the results of this week's presidential election, which they say were altered to favor incumbent President David Granger, according to media reports.

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Late on Thursday night, the police had entered the GECOM command center charged with tallying votes and kicked out employees and observers, according to a video of the incident that was broadcast by local media.

Earlier on Friday, dozens of police officers remained outside the command center of the Guyana Elections Commission, known locally as GECOM, and evacuated the place.

Diplomats and opposition leaders on Thursday questioned official results of the vote in Guyana, held on Monday to choose who will oversee a nascent oil boom that has the potential to transform the economy of the impoverished South American nation.

The situation could fuel long-simmering ethnic tensions between the country's Afro-Guyanese and those of Indian descent, who have grown suspicious that the other is seeking control over revenues from oil production.

Diplomats from the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Great Britain on Friday expressed "deep concern over credible allegations of electoral fraud." They called on Granger "to avoid a transition of government, which we believe would be unconstitutional."

Granger's office said in a statement that the President met with representatives of the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community to insist that he could not intervene in the vote tallying process.

"The President has not acted unlawfully," the presidency said in a statement.

Granger on Thursday night gave celebratory statements to a rally of supporters in which he said: "We are here to serve you for the next five years." Opposition leaders say the elections council inflated votes for Granger in an area known as Region Four, the country's most populous electoral district, to give him a lead over opposition candidate Irfaan Ali.

Guyana, which has a population of less than 800,000, is expected to become a significant oil producer in the coming years as a consortium of companies including Exxon Mobil Corp taps into 8 billion barrels of oil and gas off the country's coast.

Granger's APNU-AFC coalition is primarily made up of black Guyanese descended from African slaves. At the same time, the PPP mostly represents descendants of Indian laborers who arrived in the 19th century to work on sugar plantations.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Friday said the opposition had obtained an injunction from the country's top court blocking the elections commission from declaring a winner until it fully verified the votes in Region Four.

The elections commission did not respond to requests for comment.

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