Now that the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) has set out criteria for the return of over 300 stranded Guyanese abroad, this has signalled that, if caretaker President David Granger is truthful to transparency and democracy, the same measures can be applied to have the Carter Center return to observe the elections recount.
However, despite weeks of lobbying, Granger has remained unyielding and unbothered by the intensified calls from persons of all levels of the political spectrum and from ordinary Guyanese to allow the democracy watchdog to return to Guyana. As was said after all, the Carter Center is an accredited observer and the election process is yet to be concluded. However, a desperate attempt to keep the transparency watchdog group out of the recount process has now become transparent.
Last week, caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Cummings wrote on the President’s behalf to the US Ambassador in Guyana, saying that Guyana’s decision to close its airspace to commercial traffic is due to the presence of COVID-19; Government could not allow the Carter Center to return, and, as such, that decision should be respected. This week, however, the very COVID-19 Task Force found conditional and controlled measures that would allow stranded Guyanese to return home. Like those stranded Guyanese, personnel from the Carter Center can subject themselves to all requirements of the Public Health Ministry and other relevant ministries and agencies. They can also be asked to produce their results of COVID-19 tests 48 hours prior to arrival.
Why the duplicitous behaviour? It most certainly cannot be that intelligent minds in the administration have not realised it is very apparent that refusal under the pretext of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is yet another desperate move to keep the Carter Center out. Certainly, it must have occurred to them that everyone can see that Government allowed several international flights into the country. Among the reasons for those flights were to transport rotating ExxonMobil workers and to bring the Caricom observer team for the elections recount.
However, the decision to keep the Carter Center out does not come as a surprise, as there have been tremendous attempts by the current caretaker administration since the March 2 polls to keep at bay any organization or person who stands for transparency, credibility and democracy. The attack on the reputation of former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding is a prime example of how the APNU/AFC treat persons who stand up against electoral fraud. The former Jamaica PM, in his report on Guyana’s General and Regional elections made to the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), candidly said: “I have never seen a more transparent effort to alter the results of an election.”
The former Prime Minister was on the ground here in Guyana during the polls, and had a first-hand look at the voting and tabulation processes. Like Golding had observed, there is no secret that fraud was perpetrated during the Region 4 (Demerara-Mahaica) tabulation process. All of the observer missions that were on the ground on March 2 — local, regional and international – reported that the voting process was organised and fair, but irregularities occurred, not at the polling stations, but rather in the tabulation of Region Four votes.
Guyana must be thankful to the observer missions that were here on Elections Day, because, indeed, had it not been for them, as American Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch said, a result might have been declared that would not have commanded the acceptance of the Guyanese people, or the respect and approval of the international community. Therefore, we support Peoples Progressive Party/Civic Presidential Candidate Dr Irfaan Ali’s call that those same conditionalities that applied to the stranded Guyanese overseas should be applied for the return of international observers to oversee the ongoing elections recount.