GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — A major dispute erupted Monday in Guyana and threatened to further destabilize the South American country after the governing party rejected a recount of votes cast during the March 2 general elections.
The ruling multiparty coalition that has been in power since 2015 accused the main opposition People’s Progressive Party of electoral fraud and said it would go to court to prevent the elections commission from declaring a winner. The announcement was made a day after the commission finished recounting about 400,000 votes, including disputed votes from about 30 boxes from coastal villages that the ruling coalition said contained only votes for the opposition that it wants invalidated.
The opposition party, which is leading by three parliamentary seats, has rejected the fraud allegations and said former Housing Minister Irfaan Ali should be sworn in while the court resolves any alleged irregularities. The People’s Progressive Party led Guyana for 23 years until 2015, when it lost to the ruling coalition led by President David Granger, who is seeking a second five-year term.
The election is considered the most important since Guyana became independent from Britain in 1966, given the recent discovery of major oil and gas deposits near its coastline. But the impasse has largely paralyzed life in the country of some 750,000 people., The Finance Ministry warned it’s unable to access funds amid the coronavirus pandemic because there is no functioning Parliament, which was dissolved in December.