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APNU+AFC, PNCR call on CARICOM Chairman to rubbish Ralph Gonsalves’ statement on vote recount

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2020, 21:51 by Denis Chabrol

Congress Place, the headquarters of the People’s National Congress Reform.

The incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) on Thursday called on the Chairman of the Caribbean Community ( CARICOM), Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley to state her position on Guyana’s national vote recount.

The incumbent coalition issued the call one day after incoming CARICOM Chairman, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves said the recount results must be used to declare the results of the March 2, 2020 general elections since there were no problems with the electoral machinery before and on polling day.

“The APNU+AFC agrees that CARICOM should not allow a statement, as this one made, by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to stand. He is not the Chairman of CARICOM and, therefore, the Chairman of CARICOM must make her position clear on this matter,”  APNU+AFC co-campaign manager, Joseph Harmon told a select group of pro-government media in a statement that was broadcast live on Facebook.

In a separate statement, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the largest and most influential party in the loosely-knit APNU- went a step further by calling on Mottley to dissociate the regional intergovernmental organisation from the remarks by the Vincentian leader.  “The People’s National Congress Reform, therefore, calls on the sitting Chairman of CARICOM, the Right Honourable Mia Motley, to issue a clear statement distancing CARICOM from Prime Minister Gonsalves’ statement lest it be interpreted as CARICOM’s intention to scuttle the entire process of arriving at a final credible process,” the party said.

The PNCR accused the Vincentian Prime Minister of interfering in the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and influence the three-member CARICOM team that scrutinised the recount of more than 450,000 votes that were cast on March 2, 2020.

“The PNCR views this statement as a direct interference into the affairs of a sovereign nation and more particularly the work of an independent Constitutional agency, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Further, Mr. Gonsalves’ direct appeal to influence the CARICOM Observation Team whose report will form part of documents for GECOM’s consideration, is a blatant attack on the integrity of the CARICOM team; highly prejudicial and serves only to undermine CARICOM’s efforts at being professional in arriving at a final credible process,” the PNCR said.

Harmon assailed the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister for undermining the recount process by his utterances that “mirrors the narrative” of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on the matter of the outcome of the presidential, parliamentary and 10 regional council elections and raises the spectre of bias and its eventual outcome.  “The statement made while the recount process is still ongoing is inimical to the interest of all Guyanese,” Harmon said, while accusing him of failing to understand the recount which was kick-started after a visit he and four other regional leaders paid to Guyana in March after widespread concerns about voter irregularities. APNU+AFC has contended that the Recount Order that was published in the Official Gazette provides for a detailed check on the votes cast, including reconciliation of various types of documents, with the votes cast to ensure that the process is credible.

Regarded as a very close confidante and strategist to President David Granger, the APNU General Secretary warned CARICOM leaders to desist from issuing public statements on the recount. “It is to be expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or statements that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusions,” he said.

The APNU+AFC official recalled that , unlike Gonsalves’ belief, the coalition had strenuously objected to a bloated list and that efforts to conduct a house-to-house registration had been thwarted by the PPP’s court action.

Before Thursday’s apparent blunder by Gonsalves, APNU+AFC had repeatedly referred to the CARICOM scrutineers’ important role in determining whether the elections reflected the will of Guyanese at the polls. The coalition said data from GECOM’s observation reports show that there were 7,929 instances of irregularities “which directly affect the validity of 257,173 votes.”

APNU+AFC has already criticised the Organisation of American States (OAS) for saying that the recount process is credible and the results should be used to declare a winner and install a democratically elected government.