CCJ ruling can bring a clear resolution to Guyana’s electoral impasse – Carter Center
A judgement handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice – Guyana’s final legal recourse – can possibly bring an end to the current electoral crisis facing the nation, says the Carter Center.
Director of the Center’s Democracy Programme, Dr David Carroll, during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, explained that the existing political climate in the country is not healthy, and an immediate resolution is needed.
Just when the country thought the process would come to an end with the declaration of the elections results last week, the APNU/AFC Coalition approached the Court of Appeal seeking a number of reliefs. As a consequence, the work of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was put on hold.
And following the Appeal Court’s ruling on Monday, the PPP/C approached the CCJ to challenge that judgment, claiming that it “plunged the law in total confusion”.
With a full hearing of that party’s appeal set for July 1, Dr Carroll is hoping that the subsequent ruling would ultimately bring an end to this unprecedented prolonged electoral process.
“The ability to turn to legal options to try to address the disputes was anticipated; and ultimately, a ruling by the CCJ, we can hope as it did in the No-Confidence Motion (case) and previous important cases, can bring a final resolution to the question,” the Carter Center rep stated.
“And if it takes another short amount of time, what’s important is that there is a clear resolution that has a credible basis to it,” he added.
According to Dr Carroll, the current situation is not healthy, more particularly for a government that fell to a No-Confidence Motion more than one year ago to remain in executive office.
“The elections process on a whole has not been healthy for Guyana,” he expressed.
Asked specifically about the fact that the APNU/AFC Coalition has grasped onto power since December 2018, Dr Carroll said, “I don’t think any of this has been healthy for Guyana. I really don’t.”
The Carter Center rep noted that “the best that can happen now is that there is as quick as possible resolution that is founded on credible results and credible legal basis, and we can move toward the next phase.”
The next phase, he reasoned, is to address the flaws of the electoral and entire governance system in the country.
“Elections in Guyana are broken, and there is a real serious need to address the flaws of the elections’ legal framework in Guyana, and reforms are seriously needed to the electoral system in Guyana and frankly to the broader system of governance in the country,” Dr Carroll explained.
He added that “the winner takes all system is the problem”, as he alluded to the need for an inclusive governance approach.
Guyanese went to the polls on March 2 to exercise their franchise; but now, some three months later, results are yet to be declared.
The issues were started in the tabulation center for Region Four (Demerara Mahaica) – the country’s largest electoral district – where Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo began tabulating numbers which were different from the figures on the official documents, the Statements of Poll (SOPs).
He then proceeded to make a declaration based on those fraudulent numbers, and the APNU/AFC Coalition open-handedly accepted those results despite objections from every other stakeholder, including the Carter Center.
A second attempt by Mingo to declare the results using fraudulent numbers was also supported by the APNU/AFC.
Eventually, a recount exercise initiated by caretaker President David Granger and agreed upon by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was set to commence under the supervision of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
But despite agreeing to the recount exercise, Granger’s coalition party, through a supporter, approached the courts to stop the activity from happening.
After another legal battle, the recount exercise began, and Granger, who described CARICOM as the most important interlocutors in the process, had agreed to accept the recount results.
The recount results clearly show that the PPP/C won the elections, but now Granger’s party is refusing to accept those results.
Asked if a shared governance approach with a party that has consistently demonstrated its intent to disregard the rules is likely, Dr Carroll said, “I think they have to commit, if they are really interested in all Guyanese…”
He explained that commitment is needed, not just from the political leaders, but from civil society and regular Guyanese citizens.
“(Guyana’s) deeply polarised society and political system will really hold it back from what could be an extremely successful and bright future,” the Carter Center rep reasoned.