May 25, 2015

PPP/C begins countrywide protests for total recount of ballots

Recount our votes! Former president Donald Ramotar and other PPP/C members and supporters protesting in front of GECOM's head office on Thursday.

Recount our votes! Former president Donald Ramotar and other PPP/C members and supporters protesting in front of GECOM’s head office on Thursday.

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in its quest to get a total recount of votes conducted a peaceful protest on Wednesday in front of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) offices in Bush Lot, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and in Fort Wellington, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice).

The protests follow a statement by former President Donald Ramotar that the Party will seek recourse via the options made available under the country’s Constitution, as the Party called on citizens to be vigilant.

In Region Two, the protest was headed by former Minister Alli Baksh and attracted over 50 PPP/C supporters from within the region. Despite the rain, the staunch supporters armed themselves with placards which read, “Surujbally Must Go”, “We demand fairness”, “They steal our votes and give to APNU”, “Cheated but not defeated” among other slogans.

The protest in Region Two, which started about 14:00h, lasted for almost six hours.

The protest headed by former Minister within the Agriculture Ministry and PPP/C representative Alli Baksh in front of GECOM Office at Bush Lot in Region Two

The protest headed by former Minister within the Agriculture Ministry and PPP/C representative Alli Baksh in front of GECOM Office at Bush Lot in Region Two

According to Baksh, who is also the PPP/C representative, the protest was to renew the call for a total recount of individual ballots of all 2299 polling stations throughout Guyana, as well as the resignation of GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally.

 “ … Is there something to hide??? If we want a total recount, why not grant us?? In 2011, recount was granted to the Opposition why can’t GECOM satisfy our request?” one supporter asked.

Over in Region Five, about 150 supporters were on the picket line, calling for a recount.

The PPP/C, in a statement on Tuesday, called on Dr Surujbally to resign, saying, prior to the May 11 General and Regional Elections, it raised concerns both publicly and privately with the GECOM Chairman, Commission and Secretariat; the advance assessment teams of the United Nations, Commonwealth and the Carter Center; the diplomatic community, and subsequently with the International Observer Missions with regard to the partiality of the GECOM machinery. The PPP/C had queried the recruitment of polling staff connected to the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition.

Part of the protest in Region Five

Part of the protest in Region Five

The Party also cited the fact that fake Statements of Poll (SoPs) were found as grounds for a recount.

The PPP/C, which is maintaining that it won the election, is also contending that several of its requests to GECOM for copies of SoPs and Tally Sheets which were used to tabulate the results of these elections and a breakdown of the results from each Polling Division or Ballot Box were rejected.

The protesters reiterated these demands, as the Party maintained that the results declared by GECOM for the May 11 General and Regional Elections did not accurately reflect the will of the people.

The protesters have vowed to continue their action until GECOM agrees to a total recount of the ballots cast.

On Saturday, supporters of the PPP/C picketed in the Black Bush Polder area, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) simultaneously with supporters at Rose Hall Town in another part of the region.

‘Significant’ oil find in Guyana

…US oil giant Exxon Mobil confirms

The Deepwater Champion exploration ship which is currently digging the well

The Deepwater Champion exploration ship which is currently digging the well

Days after announcing its discovery of hydrocarbons, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil is now reporting the discovery of oil-bearing rock in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana.

The United States-based oil company said the Liza-1 well has encountered more than 295 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.

The well is the first on the 6.6-million acre Stabroek Block and has been drilled to 17,825 feet. It was drilled by ExxonMobil local subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd.

ExxonMobil’s President, Stephen Greenlee said he was encouraged by the results of the first well on the Stabroek Block.

He assured that over the coming months the company will work to determine the commercial viability of the discovered resource as well as evaluate other resource potential on the block.

The well was spud on March 5, 2015. According to him, the well data will be analysed in the coming months to better determine the full resource potential.

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd has a 45 per cent interest in the block. Hess Guyana Exploration Limited holds 30 per cent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 per cent interest.

Former Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud had said that any discovery of oil would be a significant boost to Guyana’s economy.

The oil company has made headway amid the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela, where the latter remains adamant that the area where the US company is drilling is within its territory.

In early March, the oil and gas company, one of the largest in the world, was warned by the Spanish-speaking country to refrain from going ahead with its planned exploratory drilling activity, on a concession awarded by Guyana offshore its Essequibo Coast. Guyana, however, requested that Venezuela not interfere in its development activities.

Venezuela has repeatedly laid claim to the area being explored, ignoring an 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award, which was declared as the full and final settlement of the boundary between the two South American nations. With Venezuela’s obdurate insistence on its position, Guyana is considering judicial settlement of the boundary.

The multibillion-dollar oil exploration project, which is expected to be executed over 10 years, got underway early last month. Guyana has been receiving sustained international attention from huge companies, especially in the oil sector, after the US Geological Survey said in 2000 that the Guyana-Suriname Basin has the second largest unexplored oil potential in the world after Greenland. President Granger unveils Cabinet

President Granger unveils Cabinet

… Nagamootoo sworn in as PM, several Ministries merged, renamed

By Alexis Rodney

Cabinet Members soon after the swearing in ceremony at the Ministry of the Presidency

Cabinet Members soon after the swearing in ceremony at the Ministry of the Presidency

Veteran politician Moses Nagamootoo was on Wednesday sworn in as Prime Minister and First Vice President of the David Granger-led Administration.

His swearing in preceded the official appointment of some 15 other Cabinet Ministers as part of the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition Government. Nagamootoo is now tasked with the chairmanship of the Cabinet. In his capacity, he will hold a liaison and supervisory role of the entire Cabinet to work around the legislative agenda.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo after his swearing in related that in his capacity, he would be moving head-on into the clean-up of the city. “Let’s see how we could send a message to the Guyanese people that elections are behind us, and we have to now work together,” he said.

PM Nagamootoo pointed out that being Leader of the House in the National Assembly would keep him busy, “but I will pay special attention within my ministerial outfit, to Information and Constitutional reform, those are two big areas because we had promised the Guyanese people that we will have constitutional reform, so I will pay special attention to that area.”

Nagamootoo was born in the village of Whim, Corentyne Berbice (East Berbice-Corentyne). He worked as a Teacher and Journalist, and later became a lawyer. He was elected to Parliament in 1992 as a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) MP and subsequently served as Information Minister and Local Government Minister.

He remained in Cabinet under the presidencies of Cheddi Jagan, Samuel Hinds, Janet Jagan and Bharrat Jagdeo. He resigned as Minister in 2000 but remained an MP until 2011, when he resigned from the PPP, having first joined in 1964.

Other Ministers

Meanwhile, also taking the oath of office before the Head of State were Basil Williams as Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General; Amna Ally as Social Cohesion Minister and Carl Greenidge as Foreign Affairs Minister. Ronald Bulkan has been appointed Minister of Communities, which is an amalgamation of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development as well as Housing and Water Ministry. Besides, AFC’s Cathy Hughes was appointed Tourism Minister. Former Budget Director in the People’s National Congress (PNC) administration, Winston Jordan has been appointed Finance Minister, while Drs George Norton and Karen Cummings have been appointed Minister of and Minister within the Ministry of Public Health respectively.

Following them were Volda Lawrence and Simona Broomes who were appointed Minister of and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, which will replace the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Nicolette Henry have been sworn in as Minister of and Minister within the Ministry of Education respectively. Guyana Times International was told that both sport and culture will fall under the Education Ministry.

Additionally, AFC’s General Secretary David Patterson and APNU’s Annette Ferguson have been appointed Minister of and Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure respectively.

The President is soon expected to swear in four other Ministers. These include: Khemraj Ramjattan as Minister of National Security, which has replaced the Ministry of Home Affairs;  Noel Holder as Agriculture Minister; Sydney Allicock, Minister of Indigenous Peoples and Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Investment and Business.

Reduce and rename

Meanwhile, in addition to reducing the number of Ministries, President Granger has renamed and merged several others. The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has been renamed the Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ministry while the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has been renamed the Ministry of Communities. This Ministry will envelop Housing, Water and Local Government, while the Ministry of Business is expected to be responsible for internal trade, information and communication technology.

A number of Ministers of State are also expected to be appointed over a period of time to help orient new persons for eventual full-fledged ministerial appointments.  Speaking following the swearing in ceremony, the President stressed that his Cabinet is one team and was absolutely sure that each member would work towards the betterment of Guyana.

“We are one team and we are committed to ensuring that Guyana becomes a less divided country and a less poor country and I am confident that the Ministers that were sworn in today will give their support to me as President and Prime Minister Nagamottoo and will continue to work towards ensuring that the people of Guyana have a good life”, Granger told the gathering at his office.

He said he hopes that the Indigenous People’s Ministry would now focus on having proper roads and marketing strategies to help sell the produce of Amerindians outside their communities. The President said the renamed Ministry would continue to focus on land rights and community issues.

Meanwhile, also being sworn in was Retired Army Colonel Joseph Harmon as the Minister of State of the Ministry of the Presidency.

The President related that Harmon’s official position will be that of Minister of State with duties combined with the office of the Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS).  He explained that the difference will be that this position will now be a political appointment. This change is in line with the whole thrust of the new Administration, of bringing stronger cooperation and coordination among the different agencies and partners of the Government and the regions, the President explained.

He further explained that the role of the Cabinet Secretary will now be separate. Under the previous Administration, the roles of the HPS and the Cabinet Secretary were carried out by one individual, Dr Roger Luncheon.

The President said that he expects that the Cabinet Secretary will be a public servant post. He reminded all though that under the Cummingsburg Accord, this position can go to the Alliance for Change (AFC).

4th of July Fireworks in New York City set for East River again

Fireworks light up the sky above the Brooklyn Bridge during Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show, Friday, July 4, 2014, in New York

Fireworks light up the sky above the Brooklyn Bridge during Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show, Friday, July 4, 2014, in New York

According to a release from the Mayor’s office, the 39th annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks will once again ignite the skyline over New York City from the East River with the nation’s largest Independence Day pyrotechnic display.

The show will begin at approximately 9:20 PM on the Fourth of July from 2 locations on the East River in Midtown and within the South Street Seaport historic district.

Brave, the theme of this year’s show, will fire more than 40,000 pyrotechnic shells during a 25-minute synchronized display. Designed in collaboration with PyroSpectaculars by Souza, the show will be fired from four barges positioned between 23rd and 37th Streets in Midtown and from one double-barge positioned below the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Last year, we brought Macy’s incredible fireworks back to the East River – and this year, with barges up and down the river, even more New Yorkers will be able to take part,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This celebration will light up the sky for millions in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. There’s no question: this will be a dynamite 4th of July for New Yorkers across the city.”

For more information on the 39th annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, please visit www.macys.com/fireworks.

Macy’s Fireworks are seen by more than 3 million spectators and millions of viewers nationwide.

PPP/C points to evidence of infractions

- says tactics of fear, intimidation and bullyism was used to disrupt the electoral process

PPP/C members speaking with the media on Tuesday

PPP/C members speaking with the media on Tuesday

The Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) made the request for recounts at approximately 90 polling stations in three regions late Tuesday night and a further request for recounts in the remaining seven regions was made on Wednesday after additional discrepancies in the electoral process were brought to light.

Party member, Priya Manickchand, at a news conference held at Freedom House on Tuesday made it clear that the issue at hand is not one of merely winning the 2015 General and Regional Elections, but guarding against the threats to democracy.

She stressed that while many stakeholders in the electoral process have publicly judged the process as free and fair; in reality it was not “free from F-E-A-R.”

Manickchand stressed that allowing the electoral discrepancies to pass will find Guyana back into the abyss from which the Guyanese people have struggled to climb over the last two decades.

She contends that PPP/C officials were prevented from doing their jobs during the counting, election day staffers did not do their jobs in a professional manner as required and reports of these, as well as other infractions made by the party were not given the attention they deserved by GECOM.

“These reports were not made for the sake of reporting,” Manickchand said.

Other problems, according to the PPP/C, which were documented and forwarded to GECOM include: misdirection by some GECOM staffers who advised voters, damaged stamps that saw some ballots not being properly stamped, the fact that persons without identification cards were allowed to vote even though their images did not match those in the files of GECOM staff and the denial of proxy holders to use their proxies, among others.

According to Manickchand, tactics of fear, intimidation and bullyism were employed on Monday, May 11, to disrupt the electoral process.

When questioned on how widespread the infractions were, she explained that several reports from party agents have come to the party leadership’s attention.

On this basis, the PPP/ C member added a question of her own, “Should we accept this?” she said, adding that any count of votes done in an atmosphere of “fear” ought not to be accepted by the Guyanese people.

“Fear was created,” Manickchand said, adding that she personally made a report to a Carter Centre observer whom she met while moving around Region 5 (Demerara/ Mahaica) in her capacity as an Assistant Election Agent (AEA).

Relative to the query of whether or not acts of intimidation were reported to the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the PPP/C executive member explained that reports were not made because the offending persons could not be identified and, since the priority was to ensure that persons turned out to vote, there was no push to stop the task at hand to make a report to the police.

Meanwhile, another PPP/C member, Anil Nandlall, was emphatic that the ruling party’s request was made within legal and constitutional frameworks.

He cited Section 84 of Chapter 103 of the Representation of the People Act as one such example and stated that recounts can be requested as late as noon on the day after the returning officers have made their declarations of a final tally.

“The time for a recount has not passed,” he said, while rubbishing what he termed “misinformation” being peddled on this matter.

According to him, the discrepancies in the electoral process have resulted in one major problem: the rejection of ballots.

“We have seen an unusually high number of rejected ballots,” he said.

Nandlall said that the electoral process is a three-pronged one that involves voting, counting and the verification of those counts – a process that has not yet been concluded in its entirety.

He also debunked claims that legal action is being advanced to prevent the legal declaration of the results of the 2015 General and Regional Elections.

‘These elections were rigged’ – Ramotar

President-Donald-Ramotar-speaking-PPP/C’s Presidential Candidate Donald Ramotar has refused to concede that the PPP/C has lost the 2015 general elections and while saying that the party has won, has called for a total recount of all the votes.

“I cannot concede that I lost this election,” he told reporters at a PPP/C press conference at Freedom House on Thursday afternoon. Asked by the media if he would give up power should the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officially declare the APNU+AFC alliance the winner of the elections later today (Thursday), Ramotar responded that “I haven’t closed any options.” He said that he will be consulting with his team and did not rule out a legal challenge.

“We are convinced that these elections were rigged,” Ramotar said, while adding that the party did not agree with the assessment of international observers that the elections were credible. He called for a total recount of all the votes and said that Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield had found problems with 490 polling results.

NY-based Guyanese shoots girlfriend’s secret lover dead, then kills himself

A Guyanese man identified as Phillip Reid, fatally shot his girlfriend’s secret lover before turning the gun on himself after he walked in on the cheating couple Wednesday morning in Brooklyn, New York.

Phillip Reid

Phillip Reid

The New York Post reports that the jilted 27-year-old boyfriend, went to his girlfriend’s home on Dean Street in Brownsville around 9:45 a.m. and caught her in bed with another man, sources said.

“He whipped out a gun and blasted his girlfriend’s 24-year-old paramour in the chest, sources said, and then took his own life by shooting himself in the head.”

According to reports, Emergency Services responded and pronounced both men dead at the scene. The woman was not hurt.

The mother of one of the victims rushed to the scene, but cops wouldn’t let her enter the building. “My son is gone and I can’t go up?” she wailed.

The violence followed a report in Monday’s Post that shootings, murders and the number of shooting victims in the city have all spiked this year compared to the same period in 2014.

PPP/C says many SOPs are fake

- GECOM’s Preliminary figures show APNU+AFC wins by 5,360 votes

gecom 1The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) in a memorandum to the diplomatic community is contending that irregularities plagued the May 11th 2015 Guyana General and Regional Elections including specifically the voting at Polling Stations and the processing of the voting by GECOM electoral staff and others.

In support of its contention, the PPP/C disclosed that many Statements of Polls (SOPs) received by GECOM from the ten Electoral Districts were identified as fakes.

The Party in a statement noted that at its meeting on Wednesday, Chief Elections Officer of GECOM, Mr. Keith Lowenfield, disclosed that he had noticed that many of the SOPs had formats different from the authentic SOPs that were earlier distributed to the Electoral Districts to be used by Presiding Officers to tabulate votes at Polling Stations.

gecom 2“These fake SOPs did not additionally carry the endorsed signatures of GECOM that were applied to every SOP purchased by GECOM from Canada,” the PPP noted.

According to the PPP, it was also disclosed that SOPs had numbers of voters that exceeded the voters that were assigned to the Polling Stations.

As a result of this, the PPP/C had called on GECOM to halt declaration until the following is completed:

1.     a) The establishment of the genuine nature of each SOP submitted to GECOM for the ten (10) Electoral Districts and provision of a quantitative assessment of fake SOPs;

2.     b) The total recount of all ballots cast in the May 11th, 2015 Elections;

3.     c) The earliest disclosure of these irregularities, the nature and the results of the investigation done by GECOM;

4.     d) The submission of interventions to regain confidence in the Electoral process of May 11th, 2015.

Meanwhile, with all results in, based on GECOM’s Preliminary Results, the APNU+AFC alliance has won the most votes for the 2015 General and Regional Elections. Mr Lowenfield made the announcement on Thursday at a press conference.

With results from all polling stations in, the APNU+AFC alliance has received 206, 817 votes while the PPP/C received 201, 457 votes for the 2015 the General Elections. He said that the results are preliminary and the Returning Officers will be making their official declarations soon.

The PPP/C has requested recounts from all the districts. However, the US, UK and Canada, as well as other observer missions have hailed the polls. UK High Commissioner, Greg Quinn said that there is no evidence to support new allegations made by the PPP/C of irregularities in Monday’s elections. Quinn’s statement follows another by the US Embassy standing by its assessment that Monday’s elections were free and fair.

The result shows how close the election was as the margin is less than a seat.

Esso finds oil offshore Guyana

- Gov’t announces

oilGuyana’s Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud has announced that Esso exploration well, the Liza-1 on the Stabroek Block, using the drill-ship, Deepwater Champion located approximately 120 miles offshore Guyana, has encountered Hydrocarbons. The majority of hydrocarbons found on Earth naturally occur in crude oil.

A press release from the Ministry noted however that it is too early to confirm whether there are commercial quantities of hydrocarbons, specifically light crude.

“Minister Persaud revealed that a full evaluation of the results is underway from the exploration company,” the release noted.

According to release, Minister Persaud remains optimistic of a hydrocarbon discovery of commercial quantities which will further transform Guyana’s economy for the benefit of all Guyanese.

In the first half of 2015, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. (EEPGL) drilled an exploration well, the Liza-1 prospect, on the Stabroek Block, using the drill-ship, Deepwater Champion.

The company, an affiliate of ExxonMobil, holds 45 percent interest, while Hess Guyana Exploration Limited holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.

“I support the PPP/C” – Nadira Jagan

BY MICHAEL YOUNGE

Nadira Jagan-Brancier

Nadira Jagan-Brancier

The daughter of former Presidents Janet and Cheddi Jagan has expressed full support for the re-election of the Donald Ramotar Administration to office ahead of the 2015 General and Regional Elections which are billed for May 11.

Nadira Jagan-Brancier on Wednesday urged all Guyanese to go and vote for the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) party on Monday as she strongly refuted rumours that she was supporting the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition.

“It seems that there have been rumours that the children of Cheddi and Janet Jagan are supporting the APNU+AFC coalition. I do not!” she remarked in a letter to the local media earlier this week.

It is now clear that whatever concerns the daughter of Cheddi and Janet Jagan had, it was assuaged and that those carrying the banner of the party her father and mother founded had her firm support.

The Opposition has also been telling PPP/C supporters that all of the children and family members of the two former Presidents are fully supportive of Moses Nagamootoo’s alliance for the PNC’s David Granger. But Nadira Jagan said “I am writing to let it be known that I support the People’s Progressive Party/Civic in the upcoming election of May 11, 2015 and urge everyone to go out and vote early on that day for the Cup”.

Former President Dr Cheddi Jagan

Former President
Dr Cheddi Jagan

Nadira has been the driving force in the preservation of her parent’s legacy and played a key role in the archives of her father being stored at Red House. Since her parents’ death, she spends a considerable amount of time every year in Guyana, working on that project and others.

Nadira Jagan-Brancier’s declaration of support for the PPP/C at the May 11 General and Regional Election comes close on the heels of Joey Jagan, her older brother, throwing his hat into the ring for the Opposition PNC-led APNU+AFC coalition and is seen by most observers as clarifying that she was not associated with his move.

A letter from their mother, just before she passed away was also released which indicated that the matriarch of the family was very suspicious of her son’s political actions. She was very scathing of his reference to Forbes Burnham as his “Godfather”.

When he declared his support for the PNC-led APNU+AFC coalition, he once more alluded to this relationship which his mother denied. When Burnham ran for office, his sister Jessie issued a pamphlet, “Beware My Brother Forbes!”. The letter from Janet Jagan suggests that she had just as much an intimate knowledge of her son to write to the PPP: Beware my son Joey.

Former President Janet Jagan

Former President Janet Jagan

Her cousin, Dr Clive Jagan and a majority of his siblings have also endorsed the PPP/C and the re-election of the Donald Ramotar Administration. Joey was also known for his ill-fated and short lived Unity Party. Dr Clive Jagan, nephew of former President Dr Cheddi Jagan who was named on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) List of Candidates, said the PPP/C has remained true to the philosophies of his late uncle in upholding his legacy and it is for this reason he has thrown his support behind the party.

In addition to applauding the party for upholding the principles of the late President, he said the PPP/C is the only party that can move the country forward. However, when questioned on whether he believes that the party may have strayed from Jagan’s core values, he responded strongly in the negative.

He explained that the PPP/C continues to uphold the fundamental pillars such as democracy, freedom of press and progress for the people.

“In terms of moving away from his principles, I really don’t agree with that because I’ve seen development, I’ve seen that presumptions are made that they are moving away but there has been no valid proof that can make the Opposition or anyone come out and say that the PPP has moved away. They still stand for the same policies, they still stand for progress, they still stand for democracy, for freedom of the press, everything is still going on…,” he said.

Dr Joey Jagan

Dr Joey Jagan

In responding to questions regarding the difference in the lifestyles of Government’s officials, party leaders and supporters from Jagan’s era to now, the relative said that while his uncle was a simple man, the two periods cannot be compared since things have changed drastically over the years. “He was a very simple man; I can tell you that, he was very simple. He had sheep in his yard to mow the lawns… but time has changed from then to now. People have changed, they have achieved more,” the nephew pointed out. The only member of the closely-knit – and sometimes very reserved and private Jagan family – who has thrown support behind the Opposition coalition, is Joey Jagan who is considered relatively unstable and opportunistic.