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BREAKING: Caricom changes vote recount observer team; arrival pushed back

The arrival of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team to observe the recount of votes cast in last month’s general elections has been pushed back and the team members have been changed, multiple sources have confirmed.

Sources close to team members in three of the Caribbean island nations confirmed to News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News that they will no longer be arriving on Thursday, April 30, 2020 contrary to an an announcement earlier this week by Guyana’s National COVID-19 Task Force.

They are so far coming from Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados.

The sources also say that none of the five people who was here last month to oversee the now aborted recount will be coming and instead, the team will be largely drawn from members of the CARICOM Observer Mission that watched the March 2, 2020 polls. 

Sources at the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission  told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM that Commissioner John Jarvis is expected to come to Guyana by a charter flight. Also joining him would be St. Vincent and the Grenadines Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Sylvester King, and a former Returning Officer of Barbados, Leonard Walters.

Jarvis, according to the source, is said to be in contact with Guyana’s National COVID-19 Task Force about arrangements for his arrival.

Preliminary indications from a source in one of the Caribbean countries that would be sending an observer/ scrutineer to Guyana is that the cause of the delay might be two-fold– ensuring everyone gets a test for the coronavirus, COVID-19, before he or she arrives in Guyana.

Planners are also hoping that there are at least five team members who would be able to remain in Guyana for the recount which could take at least 25 days.

Election Commissioners representing the incumbent coalition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change and the opposition People’s Progressive Party earlier today said the Recount Order would be published in Guyana’s Official Gazette when an arrival date for the CARICOM team is known.

Election Commissioners representing the incumbent coalition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) earlier Wednesday said the Recount Order would be published in Guyana’s Official Gazette when an arrival date for the CARICOM team is known.

The National COVID-19 Task Force earlier this week had said approval had been granted for the team to arrive on Thursday, April 30, 2020.

It is unclear whether representatives of the  missions that had observed Guyana’s elections would be coming back due to logistical problems.

However, News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM understands that American, British, Canadian and European diplomats stationed in Guyana may observe aspects of the recount.

CARICOM, at the peak of last month’s controversy over the transparency and credibility of the votes especially those cast in Region Four, had dispatched a team Ms Angela Taylor, Chief Electoral Officer, Barbados; Mr Anthony Boatswain, former Finance Minister, Grenada; Ms Francine Baron, Chair of the Team and former Attorney General and Foreign Minister, Dominica; Ms Fern Nacis-Scope, Chief Elections Officer, Trinidad and Tobago; Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer, Department of Government, UWI to oversee the recount of the votes.

However, that mission had several days later packed up and left after an APNU+AFC candidate had moved to the High Court to challenge the recount process and the role of the CARICOM mission hinged on an agreement between President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The Guyana Court of Appeal weeks later ruled that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) could not have farmed out any of its supervisory or other responsibilities to anyone or organisation.

Both APNU+AFC and the PPP have claimed victory in last month’s polls.