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CARICOM Chairperson says “forces” don’t want Guyana election votes counted

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2020, 5:43 by Writer

Caricom Chairperson, Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley flanked by (left to right) Caricom Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque; the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; the Prime Minister of Grenada, Keith Mitchell; the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley and the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.

The Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Tuesday night that there is a deliberate effort to thwart the will of Guyana’s electorate by avoiding a total national recount of the votes cast at the March 2, 2020 general elections.

Hours after a Guyana High Court injunction blocked the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from going ahead with a Caricom-supervised recount in keeping with an agreement by President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, Mottley cautioned that if the matter is unresolved, the government would be deemed illegal.

“It is clear that there are forces that do not want to see the votes recounted for whatever reason. Any Government which is sworn in without a credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy,” the Caricom Chairman said.

The United States, Britain, Canada, European Union and France as well as election observer missions from the Carter Centre, Caribbean Community, Commonwealth, European Union and local organisations have all called for transparency in the tabulation of votes for Region Four, failing which Guyana could be isolated.

The latest salvo came from United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo who hailed Caricom for helping to find a political solution in Guyana. “It is important to note that the individuals who seek to benefit from electoral fraud and to form illegitimate governments, regimes, will be subject to a variety of serious consequences from the United States,” he said.

The Carciom high-level team, which arrived in Guyana on Sunday, March 15, never got down to work because of several bureaucratic and legal bottlenecks that on Tuesday ended with the High Court injunction. The team, under the chairmanship of Dominica’s former Foreign Minister and Attorney General Francine Baron, is expected to leave Guyana on Wednesday aboard a chartered aircraft.

Noting that the team was fielded at Granger’s request because the tabulation process for Region Four has been “widely viewed as not being transparent or credible”, Ms Mottley said that move had been “seen as a significant contribution to bolstering the transparency and legitimacy of the electoral process.”

But, after Tuesday’s High Court injunction restraining GECOM from recounting any ballots of the General and Regional Elections of 2 March 2020, and setting aside “any agreement between the President of Guyana and the Leader of the Opposition and or any agreement between the Guyana Elections Commission and the Caribbean Community”, the Caricom Chairperson said, “the Caribbean Community has no other choice but to withdraw the High Level Team.”

Mottley appealed to Guyanese to keep the peace while at the same time pledged Caricom’s commitment to the people of this South American nation with common historical and cultural ties with the Caribbean island nations of the regional grouping.

“It is critical that good sense prevail. The preservation of law and order is paramount and all parties must work hard to ensure that there is peace on the roads and in the communities across Guyana,” she said.

Meanwhile, President Granger in a separate statement said “I am deeply disappointed” that the Caricom initiative which was agreed upon following the intervention of the Prime Ministers of Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago “has stalled.”

Mr Granger cited the High Court’s independence in highlighting the need for transparency in the electoral process. “This independent court action has curtailed further our thrust towards reaching a transparent conclusion to the 2020 General and Regional Elections,” he said.

He restated that he is committed to the completion of all electoral requirements at the conclusion of the process under the auspices of GECOM and in the interest of all Guyanese. “I have said repeatedly throughout the electoral process that I will abide by the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the decisions of the Elections Commission and the ruling of the Supreme Court. I maintain this position,” he said, adding that “I assure the nation that I remain committed to the electoral process and to the declaration of results by the Elections Commission in accordance with the law.”

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