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  • Over 600,000 Guyanese were eligible to vote in the 2020 Elections, in which nine political parties are competing in the general elections and 11 in the regional elections.

    Over 600,000 Guyanese were eligible to vote in the 2020 Elections, in which nine political parties are competing in the general elections and 11 in the regional elections. | Photo: teleSUR

Published 2 March 2020
Opinion

Final election results are not expected before Friday, although the commission is allowed 15 days to do so. 

The electoral process in the small Caribbean nation of Guyana ran “smoothly” according to Head of the European Union (EU) Observation Mission, as hundreds of thousands of Guyanese took to the polls Monday to elect a new government. 

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“My personal impression of this morning was positive. Polling stations I visited everywhere, I saw very professional attitude and all the process was so far very smooth,” the Head of the EU Mission Urmas Paet said, as the 2,339 polling stations across the 10 administrative regions closed on Monday at 6:00 pm local time.

Observers from the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community were also invited to partake in the process. 

Over 600,000 Guyanese were eligible to vote in the 2020 Elections, in which nine political parties are competing in the general elections and 11 in the regional elections. The new 65-member National Assembly will be elected for a five-year term, and the leader of the largest coalition or party becomes the country's president.

Final election results are not expected before Friday, although the commission is allowed 15 days to do so. 

Yet when asked about the possible outcome, President David Granger leader of the Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) - who received a vote of no-confidence back in 2018 triggering the early elections - expressed he is “very confident, even before today” about his victory.   

Meanwhile, members of the Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) have said that they received reports of persons not being able to find their names on the lists which were posted at the various polling stations. The opposition has since committed to investigating this matter.

There have also been reports of small violent incidents during voting. The police in Region 3 (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) were summoned to a polling station on the West Bank of Demerara where residents staged a protest after it was alleged that persons attempted to vote with fake ID cards.

Regional Commander Simon McBean later told Stabroek News that the situation soon came under control.

Tension is running high on Guyana as Monday’s elections come at a crucial point in the country's history as it is about to experience a billion-dollar oil boom that will drastically change the future of one of the poorest nations in South America. 

“The competition of power has taken a new dimension. One feels that there is this stake that oil money will make today a forever government, some say that this is not a political election for five years but for a 1,000 years. Petrodollars are playing a big part in this election,” Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo told teleSUR. 

Over eight billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas have been discovered off the country's shores. Under a 40-year deal signed with ExxonMobil Corp and its partners in 2016, Guyana is expected to receive an estimated $168bn in revenue, more than 120 times the country's annual budget.

"These elections are not only critical, they are also consequential," said Christopher Ram, a local newspaper columnist based in Guyana's capital Georgetown.

"Each of the major parties is determined to keep the other away from control of [the] wealth," that is expected to come via the oil discoveries, he added in an interview with Al-Jazeera. 

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