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TT’s PM Rowley warned Granger of long-term impact of holding on to power; PNCR Leader says PPP uses bloated voters list to rig elections

Last Updated on Sunday, 27 March 2022, 20:26 by Denis Chabrol

President David Granger and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley briefing the media shortly after signing a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation (file picture) 

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said he had cautioned then President David Granger about the long-term consequences of not giving up power if he had known that he had lost the March 2020 general election.

“There was one thing I said to my colleague at the time, who was the President of Guyana, is that if you have lost this election, lose it with dignity. There will be another chance but if there is no dignity in this defeat, the next time you and your party will be of no use to your country and that was the position of Trinidad and Tobago in Guyana,” he said. The electoral process, including several court cases and a recount, had lasted five months until the results gad been declared in August, 2020.

Dr. Rowley was at the weekend reacting to opposition United National Congress (UNC) parliamentarian, Rodney Charles who has been reportedly pushing the view that the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister has close ties with Mr. Granger.

Dr. Rowley had been part of a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) prime ministerial delegation with Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell that had mediated in a dispute over the election results especially multiple declarations from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) that had given Mr. Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) a win. “We spent three days in Guyana seeking to part the population that was going at each other’s throats around an election result,” Dr. Rowley recalled.

“Unlike some of them, we are not interfering in the politics of any country,” said Dr. Rowley. Ms. Mottley had been openly critical of the role of then Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield for removing more than 100,000 votes that he had deemed to have lacked credibility and Dr. Gonsalves had urged Mr. Granger to “take your licks like a man” and concede defeat.

CARICOM Chairman, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley flanked by (left to right) 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 CARICOM team had eventually secured an agreement between Guyana’s two major parties for a national vote recount whose results had shown that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) had won the elections.

While the final declaration had matched the PPPC’s copies of Statements of Poll that had been signed by representatives of contesting political parties, People’s National Congress Reform Leader, Aubrey Norton on Saturday said the PPPC had been using a bloated voters list in its strongholds to rig elections. “What he did not tell the international community is that in the communities that are controlled by the PPP, they instill fear, and with a bloated list the PPP can use it and do just like they did in the last election – RIG! The PPP has a special skill; they rig and then they accuse others of rigging. We say to them, a clean voters list is a must,” Mr. Norton said in clear reference to Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo’s account of his talks with United States Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Caribbean , Barbara Feinstein.

Mr. Norton said that while Mr. Jagdeo was talking up about the recount process, and votes that should have been deemed illegal in an aborted evaluation process should not have been counted. “I say to the international community, I say to Guyanese, the recount revealed the corruption, the dishonesty and the rigging of the People’s Progressive Party in the 2020 Elections,” he said.  The national vote recount shows that 460,352 ballots were cast, but there were  661,378 listed eligible voters.

The court had ruled that the recount had been legally done and that any dispute about the results should be done through an election petition. There are two pending election petitions in the appeal process.

While two previous Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) declarations by the then Returning Officer had handed a win to APNU+AFC. the recount results showed that the PPPC won 233,336 and APNU+AFC has won 217,920. The three ‘joinder’ parties- A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM) got a total of 5,214‬ votes.