The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, is deeply disappointed with the situation in Guyana, where an amicable conclusion is yet to be reached on the General and Regional Elections that were held over a month ago.
During an interview with Elizabeth Williams of TV6 Tobago, Dr. Rowley said that on a daily and sometimes nightly basis, he is in contact with the Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, on the situation here.
“But speaking as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and as a Caribbean person, I am very disappointed and very concerned about the situation in Guyana,” Dr. Rowley said while adding, “I am getting a feeling that this is not going to end well. I hope I am wrong…”
But what was even more troublesome to the Trinidadian Prime Minister was the fallout that took place after there appeared to be an agreement between the country’s leaders that a high-level CARICOM team would overlook the recount of the elections.
In mid-March, the CARICOM Chair had disclosed that President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, agreed to a recount of all the votes for the 10 administrative regions.
The Independent High level team that was supposed to oversee the process was chaired by the former Attorney-General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Dominica, Ms Francine Baron, and comprised former Minister of Finance of Grenada, Mr Anthony Boatswain; Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government of UWI, Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles; Chief Electoral Officer of Barbados, Ms Angela Taylor; and Chief Elections Officer of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Fern Narcis-Scope. But when they arrived in Guyana, a legal challenge in the name of APNU Supporter, Ulita Grace Moore, sought to block the recount. The CARICOM team left Guyana after this development.
Reflecting on the foregoing, Dr. Rowley said that the leaders of Guyana were told that the end of an election is counting of the ballots and it was his belief that this was instilled in his Guyanese colleagues and that there was agreement.
He said, “…We sent our Chief Election Officer to be a scrutinizer, not to interfere with the process but just to look at it to bring comfort to the people of Guyana that the figure that is going to come out of there, having been scrutinized by a CARICOM team (was going to be credible), and then the next thing we knew was that our presence was met with a legal challenge and accusations against CARICOM so we had to get out of there.”
At this point, the Prime Minister said he is not sure where this leaves CARICOM’s involvement going forward. He recalled as well that CARICOM had an opportunity to speak to all the leaders of the 11 political parties while noting that they got the benefit of CARICOM leaders’ experience and the comfort of their presence.
He said, “I don’t know where that leaves CARICOM now and that is why I have this very unsettling feeling with every passing day. I am hopeful that something happens that puts an end to this. It cannot go on like this because it is not going to end well. And nobody is going to benefit from this in Guyana.”
The Prime Minister added, “…I saw coming out of Guyana, some advice from experienced Guyanese and I trust people would be able to take it and bring an end to all of this. There is too much at stake.”
During the interview, the PM was asked to say if he believes CARICOM would be comfortable if Granger is sworn in as the next President but he declined to speak in this regard. Instead, he said he would leave that for the CARICOM Chair to answer.
He did note however that Trinidad remains “deeply involved” in the situation in Guyana and it has played its role at the level of CARICOM. He also reminded that the headquarters for CARICOM is in Guyana which also increases reasons for concern.
The Prime Minister concluded, “…We can’t accept a situation where at the headquarters’ territory, what is being threatened (such as international sanctions if credible elections aren’t had) comes to past. That is why I am hoping for a speedy conclusion which the Guyanese people can be comfortable with going forward.”
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