Guyana govt breaks silence on absence of Carter Centre observer mission

Last Updated on Saturday, 9 May 2020, 20:20 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana government Saturday afternoon broke its more than one week silence on why the Carter Centre observer mission was not allowed to return to the country to observe the recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

Chief Executive Officer of the COVID-19 Task Force, Joseph Harmon said Guyanese authorities informed that based on guidelines to tackle the disease, approval had been granted for a plane with pilot and crew members to come to Guyana to transport outgoing foreign nationals and residents.

Harmon said government never gave a directive for the Carter Centre team to come to Guyana but when they were not aboard the plane. “First of all, when the application was made, the application was made for an aircraft to come and then at the last minute, we were advised that the Carter Centre team would be on the aircraft. We didn’t say take them off, we didn’t say that they should come. We didn’t say anything like that. What we learnt is that when the aircraft arrived here, they were not here; they were not on the flight,” he said.

Harmon pointed out that permission was granted for the aircraft and crew to come to Guyana.

Due to COVID-19 , there is a tight restriction on international flights in an effort to contain the disease that up to Saturday killed 11 people and sickened 87 others.

The United States and Canada had publicly urged President David Granger to approve the return of the Carter Centre observer mission. Harmon sought to assure that the Granger administration had no problem with the Carter Centre and was not opposed to scrutiny.

The senior government official indicated that his A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) was banking on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) three-member team to determine whether the March 2, 2020 elections are credible.

Harmon says a representative of the Carter Centre can come if the request is made through the right channels, but if he or she has not been tested for COVID-19 that person would have to be quarantined for 14 days. “If you are coming from overseas, you have to be tested and you have to have a certificate that is valid, I believe, for seven days or so. If you do not have that and you get permission and you come here you have to be quarantined for fourteen days,” he said.

The US Embassy here had said that it had requested the return of the Carter Centre team through the diplomatic channels and after it was declined, an approach was made at the “highest levels”- a suggestion that that meant President Granger.

In his most recent address to the nation, Granger made no mention of the Carter Centre or any other international observer mission, but highlighted the presence of the CARICOM team of scrutineers.