Mar 23, 2020 Letters
The Commonwealth Observer Group, led by former Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur, has issued preliminary statements before withdrawing from Guyana a week ago. Mr. Arthur alluded to “serious and persistent electoral malpractice observed by the Group from 3-14 March”, presumably referring to the process in Region 4 only, which suggests that the Group did not observe post-poll processes in the other regions or found that the processes, and declarations, in those regions to be “credible, transparent and inclusive”. No doubt, Mr. Arthur will clarify, and detail, these issues in his full report. Moreover, he has castigated the leadership of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for its failure to “halt or rectify blatant instances of disregard for the rule of law and electoral ethics” and enumerates, at least, 4 such instances, including the following:
1. Two unlawful declarations made by the Returning Officer (RO) of District 4;
2. The RO’s continued failure to comply with the March 11 rules made by the Chief Justice;
3. The RO’s refusal to provide the Statements of Poll during the tabulation exercise; and
4. The repeated cessation of the tabulation process in District 4 for a variety of “irregular reasons” and the denial of the “robust exchanges” between political party agents.
Mr. Arthur has also welcomed the CARICOM-Granger-Jagdeo agreement as a useful mechanism to resolve the current impasse.
The inescapable truth is that all of the concerns raised by Mr. Arthur, other observer groups, international missions and prominent individuals have been, and are now, before the High Court of Guyana and they should all welcome and respect the Court’s involvement, abide by its decisions, and represent them faithfully. That is the only lawful, credible and transparent process, not the questionable opinions of self-interested and partial parties. It is extremely disappointing that all the legal purists, here and abroad, that were enamoured of the constitution and the legal system when pursuing the No Confidence Vote, are suspicious of it now.
It seems to me, that if all those political parties, observer groups, international missions, civil society and prominent persons truly believed, and have evidence, that GECOM and APNU+AFC were engaged in, or facilitated, electoral malpractice, they would eagerly engage the courts, like on previous occasions, which could not fail to vindicate and support their claims. Why would they not do so, and end this national torture, I wonder and who will stand up for the law? Many seem content to play at politics, and none except for President Granger and Chairperson of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh, have steadfastly committed to obeying the law in spite of insults, character assassination, accusations of criminality and bad faith, and threats of sanctions, and I applaud their discipline, strength, courage and decency which so many clearly have very little.
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