GEORGETOWN (Reuters) – Preliminary data published by Guyana’s elections commission shows that opposition candidate Irfaan Ali has won a recount of votes in March’s presidential election following accusations the tally was manipulated.
President David Granger had claimed victory despite observer groups and diplomats from the United States and the European Union saying there were irregularities in the count.
While Guyana’s election commission has yet to officially declare results, initial data shows Ali’s opposition PPP party secured enough votes to win 33 seats in the 65-seat legislature.
Granger’s APNU+AFC party secured enough votes to take 31 seats.
The 40-year-old Ali is expected to be sworn in as president.
The opposition had said the results from the largest voting district had been inflated to put Granger ahead of Ali. Guyana’s top court found the district’s electoral head had not counted votes in accordance with electoral laws, eventually leading to a country-wide recount.
The disputed vote may fuel long-simmering tensions between two groups, Afro-Guyanese and those of Indian descent, each of which has grown suspicious that the other is seeking control over revenues from oil production.
Guyana, which has a population of less than 800,000, is expected to become a major oil producer in the coming years as a consortium of companies taps into 8 billion barrels of oil and gas off its coast.
(Reporting by Neil Marks; Writing by Sarah Kinosian and Brian Ellsworth; editing by Grant McCool)