March 11, 2020 / 8:39 PM / a month ago

Guyana court rules vote count must resume before election winner declared

FILE PHOTO: Irfaan Ali, presidential candidate for Guyana's opposition People's Progressive Party, meets with supporters, ahead of the March 2nd presidential election, in Georgetown, Guyana January 18, 2020. Picture taken January 18, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Cohen/File Photo

GEORGETOWN (Reuters) - Guyana’s chief justice ruled on Wednesday that the country’s largest electoral district must resume counting votes from a March 2 election, after earlier blocking the elections commission from declaring the winner in a vote marred by accusations of fraud.

Judge Roxane George ruled that election officials in an area known as Region Four must resume verification of votes on Thursday morning, after the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) argued the results were released without verifying the votes at more than half the polling stations.

The dispute led to violent demonstrations over the weekend in which one protester was shot dead. The vote will decide who is in power during the early years of an oil boom set to transform the economy of the poor former British colony, which is beset by tensions between black Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese.

The PPP, supported mostly by Indo-Guyanese, said the results of Region Four were inflated to put incumbent President David Granger ahead of opposition challenger Irfaan Ali. Diplomats and foreign observers described credible evidence of fraud in the tallying of the results.

Reporting by Neil Marks; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft

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