Home Top Stories Elections CoI: Fmr Foreign Minister threatened to revoke observers’ accreditation – GECOM...
– claimed she was instructed to do so
As the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the March 2020 General and Regional Elections continued on Friday, video footage surfaced showing former Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Karen Cummings threatening to revoke the accreditation of international observers.
GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj continued his testimony on Friday, where several videos were shown and ventilated.
One of the clips showed the former APNU/AFC Minister meeting with international observers at the Region Four Command Centre on the morning of March 5, 2020.
After a loud exchange, Head of the Commonwealth Observer Mission in Guyana, former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur is heard telling the APNU/AFC politician, “It comes across as intimidation, that you’re trying to intimidate the observers.”
Moments after, observers are seen leaving the room after which then Deputy Chief Election Officer, Roxanne Myers is seen meeting with Dr Cummings. As she tries to quell the situation, Arthur responds, “It doesn’t take away from the fact that you threatened to take away our accreditation.”
When the incident occurred, it was reported that Cummings, a candidate for the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), was accused of trying to intimidate the international missions that were keenly observing the electoral process in Guyana.
She allegedly told the international observers that she was instructed to withdraw their accreditation, but she was not in agreement that it should be done; she did not reveal whose instructions she was obeying.
Another clip, recorded by Gunraj, showed observers of the OAS and Commonwealth barred from entering the Region Four Command Centre on March 6, 2020.
Gunraj is heard saying, “We have been invited here for 9am. It is now 20 minutes to 09:00h. There has been no movement as to our being allowed to enter the building. There are representatives of the OAS and Commonwealth observer teams. I am aware that there is a very heavy Police presence and we are being told by ranks who are present here this morning that we will not be allowed entry…The office remains closed and there is no movement.”
During that same time, Assistant Police Commissioner Edgar Thomas was removed from his commanding officer post for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Sub-division A after refusing to execute a decision, which he had opined was unlawful.
The CoI also heard that an order was given by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, to remove both international and local observers, along with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) appointed Commissioner from the Region Four Returning Officer’s (RO) office at Hadfield and High Streets, Georgetown.
After the instruction was handed down, the Commander related that such a move would be unlawful while pointing out that executing such an order would also escalate the already high tension at the location.
Thomas, who currently serves as the Head of the Presidential Guard Unit of the Police Force, has already testified before the Commission where he recounted the series of events.