PSC lauds Caricom for “protection, preservation” of Guyana’s democracy
As Guyana observes the 47th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has lauded the work of the regional bloc over the past months to help protect and preserve democracy in Guyana.
In its Caricom Day message, the PSC congratulated the 15 Member States on its anniversary. Guyana was among four founding nations that signed the treaty that gave birth to Caricom and the Common Market, renamed Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The Commission also extended congratulations to Secretary General of Caricom, Ambassador
Irwin LaRoque, “on his sterling work in organising and supporting the Caricom Observer Mission for the March 2, General Elections and the delegation of high-level observers to scrutinise the GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) election recount.”
“We would like to particularly express our appreciation to the members of the high-level delegation for the personal sacrifice they made in the completion of the mission and submission of a comprehensive and conclusive report,” the PSC added.
Moreover, the Commission also registered its unreserved appreciation of and admiration for the “unstinted support and dedication” of Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who is the former Caricom Chair, and current Chairman, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as well as all the Caricom leaders “for the protection and preservation of democracy in Guyana.”
The regional bloc has played an integral role in Guyana’s protracted electoral process. It has been four months since Guyanese exercised their franchise at the March 2020 polls but an official declaration is yet to be made.
This is despite the special Caricom team, which scrutinised the 33-day recount exercise and certified the results, saying in its report to the GECOM Chair, (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh, “nothing we witnessed, warrants a challenge to the inescapable conclusion that the recount results are acceptable and should constitute the basis of the declaration of results of the March 2, 2020 elections.”
The GECOM Chair had directed Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield last month to submit his final elections report based on the recount figures, which show the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in a landslide lead with some 15,416 votes more than its main political rival, the caretaker APNU/AFC coalition. The PPP/C obtained 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC garnered 217,920 votes.
However, in his final elections report, the embattled CEO submitted figures of what he deemed “valid votes” giving the caretaker coalition 171,825 votes and the PPP/C 166,343 votes – which meant he invalidated over 115,000 votes.
Lowenfield has come into for a lot of criticism over his dumping of these 115,000-plus votes.
In fact, PM Mottley had questioned his action, asking “On what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Election Officer determine that he should invalidate one vote, far less 115,000 votes?”
The Caricom Chair said that it was regrettable that the Community was now witnessing an unprecedented level of “gamesmanship” that has left much to be desired.
However, her remarks had earned her a barrage of attacks by the caretaker APNU/AFC and its supporters.
Despite previously deeming Caricom as the most “legitimate interlocutor” in Guyana’s electoral process, the APNU/AFC had issued a statement, which was subsequently withdrawn, saying “We believe that Prime Minister Mottley’s statement is both ill-informed and ill-advised… We view the Hon Prime Minister’s statement as not only untimely but, in fact, as interference in a matter on which the Constitution of Guyana is clear.”
In response, however, PM Mottley posited that the Community should never avoid upholding its shared principles.
“The truth hurts. But what we must never do in Caricom is avoid the truth and avoid our principles,” she said briefly at a subsequent press conference.
Adding to this, the former Caricom Chair on Friday said that it is “regrettable” that on July 3 – more than four months after the General and Regional Elections were held in Guyana – a credible winner has still not been declared.
PM Mottley made these remarks as she formally handed over the Chairmanship to Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, during a virtual ceremony on Friday. The new Caricom Chairman defended her firm stance on ensuring Guyana’s democracy is preserved.
“Her helpful initiatives [to] assist in the preservation of democracy in Guyana within the terms of the Caricom Charter of Civil Society will be long remembered, despite unwarranted, vulgar and opportunistic criticisms of her from jaundiced sources who ought to know better,” Gonsalves said on Friday.
This is not the first time Dr Gonsalves has spoken out about Guyana’s situation.
During an NBC Radio programme last month, the St Vincentian PM had warned that the regional bloc will not tolerate the “stealing” of an election, nor allow the results from the recount process to be set aside.
“I am satisfied that Caricom will not stand by idly and watch the recount which was properly done for the results to be set aside,” Mr Gonsalves, who was a part of the high-level delegation of regional leaders led by PM Mottely that visited Guyana back in March, had expressed.
However, he too had come under attacks for his comments.