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GDF will support democratically elected govt

Last Updated on Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 16:18 by Denis Chabrol

Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess

The newly-appointed Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Godfrey Bess on Wednesday said the military would support the government once it is elected constitutionally.

“We are trained to support the democratically elected government of the day based on our constitution and that we will continue to do,” he told reporters shortly after he was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier and appointed the new head of the army.

He succeeds Brigadier Patrick West who proceeded on pre-retirement leave until March 2021.

Asked about his thoughts about the role of the military in democracy in the Hemisphere. “The Guyana Defence Force is a professional organization and we will stick to the Constitution of Guyana,” Brigadier Bess said.

There have been concerns among Western Nations and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that President David Granger would remain in office without due regard to the results of the national recount from the 460,352 votes that were cast on March 2, 2020.

Mr. Bess stressed that the GDF is subordinate to and support the civilian authorities in operating within the law. “Our relationship with the civil authorities always is subordinate and we take instructions, legal instructions,” he said.

Bess once served as Director of National Events at the Ministry of the President’s Department of Culture.

For his part, President David Granger said he would not pronounce on whether he has been victorious or defeated until the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) declares the results.

The executive branch of government does not have role in managing elections. That role is given under the constitution, exclusively, explicitly to the elections commission. “I cannot claim victory, which in have not done and I cannot concede to defeat, which I have not done. Unless I am notified formally by the chairman of the  Guyana Elections Commission what the results of that elections have been,” said Granger a retired Brigadier of the GDF.

The President said he was unaware of what GECOM would declare and he appealed to Guyanese await the declaration by GECOM Chairman, Retied Justice Claudette Singh “when she s ready.”

“As I have said before, I will abide by that declaration,” he said.

But General Secretary of Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Retired Lt.Col. Joseph Harmon has said calls for Granger to concede defeat have been overtaken by the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield’s submission of a report to GECOM showing that APNU+Alliance For Change has retained power with a one-seat majority. Lowenfield subtracted 115,000 votes , saying he was guided by the Guyana Court of Appeal on what constitutes a credible and valid vote.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which is hearing an appeal, has issued an order blocking GECOM from declaring results until the hearing and determination of the case.

The People’s Progressive Party said the actual recount shows that it has won the elections by 15,000 votes.