The 2020 elections national recount is permitted by gazetted Order of 4th May, 2020 and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must be allowed to function within the scope of the Order and laws that govern its operations. No more, no less! We must do so bearing in mind that Guyana is a sovereign nation in good standing and respected by the United Nations as capable of internal self-governance.
The government of the day has demonstrated so far, an abiding faith and commitment to operate within a legal framework as adumbrated by GECOM and our judicial system. However, despite the ongoing electoral struggles, despite the vicious propaganda, the misinformation campaign, and efforts to create mistrust in our constitutional offices, GECOM and the Judiciary remain free to, and capable of, upholding their mandate as we navigate our electoral conflicts and discrepancies.
A number of local and international eyes are observing Guyana’s elections. Some scrutinise the national recount, either by request based on our regional, historical, cultural mutuality and common survival. Others participate based upon invitation consistent with trends primarily noted in Third World countries seeking to demonstrate democratic elections compliance rooted in the concept of free, fair and transparent processes. Some even as we invited their presence, from all appearances are misusing the goodwill observatory role whilst acting like “international dictators” using “vulgar diplomacy”:-
1) With no respect or regard for our local laws which they appear not to know or care for. One ambassador made a derogatory remark about a petition brought before the courts as though the individual doing so had no right to seek legal recourse;
2) With no respect for their role as observers and diplomats seeming to prefer functioning more as participatory observers with direct pronouncements that serve one side;
3) They behave in a manner that is publicly demanding and commanding instead of one that exercises diplomatic, behind the scenes manoeuvers;
4) They allegedly (in the case of Canadian High Commission Chaterjee) barged into the office of GECOM Chairman without permission, intruding on a Commission meeting and began passing orders;
5) They mislead the public with information and analysis that is far from credible (as in the European Union Ambassador Canto stating there was no room for cheating on polling day when the observations of the recount uncovered more votes than electors on some Official List of Election; voting without proper identification or affidavits to support identity, ballot boxes with contrary documentation pertaining to another box, etc.);
6) They sought to undermine/influence the courts by declaring what decision they expect and will accept as in the case of Ulita Moore’s petition;
7) They issued open threats directed to the government and people of Guyana even as legal processes were ongoing;
8) They strategically issue statements seemed timed to create favour;
9) They turn a blind eye to inflammatory media fuelling tensions and violence;
10) To date they have overlooked the violence that erupted in West Coast Berbice that resulted in police having to run for safety from a violent group of PPP supporters. NB. Police were injured, and school children attacked and injured.
Compliance inevitably becomes a ruling handed down by these men and women who no longer act as observers but arbiters of a process that they have no legal authority over. In this regard they, the elections observers, subject Guyana to “international dictatorship” and violate the universal code of conduct of elections observers. They are clearly taking a side in Guyana’s election, repeating the opposition’s narrative with no regard to his diplomatic office, and issuing threats to a nation abiding by its laws to resolve its electoral disputes.
The Order is explicit, clearly laying out the exercise GECOM has embarked upon and the numbers as well as observation factors that will be taken into consideration to deliver a declaration. Credible elections must be determined by our Laws not by any other means. The “crude and vulgar” diplomacy and “international dictatorship” evident in Ambassador Canto’s remarks however state that only the numerical “count” has significance and “there are other avenues to address any other issues that may arise from the process”.
What is happening in Guyana is an orchestrated plot that became manifest since the no confidence motion when a tsunami of persons sought to have this government step down without seeking judicial review and with disregard for the Caribbean Court of Justice’s Consequential Order. The evidence of this plot deepened revealing the clandestine hands of many driven by greed and the quest for power in a new oil rich state.
The hands of “international dictators” using democracy as a camouflage are at work partnering with greedy local politicians. We invited them in, unwittingly allowing them to pursue a takeover of the Guiana oil basin by exploiting our divisions and greed.
Last year the work of “international dictators” forced Bolivia’s President Evo Morales out of office. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) contracted with researchers from MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab to conduct an independent review to validate its own numerical and statistical results from a research conducted in November. These results concurred that the “[Organisation of American States] OAS finding that fraud helped Morales win was flawed and concluded that it was ‘very likely’ the socialist president Morales won the October vote by the 10 percentage points needed to avoid a runoff.” The all-powerful OAS dismissed the study as “unscientific.”
In Venezuela there were also allegations of electoral malpractices leading to international forces refusing to allow the people of this once powerful Latin American country to resolve their differences through the courts. Not surprising in the recent Suriname elections, observers cried massive fraud and accused the Elections body of malpractice for having engagement with the President. The OAS had to be advised by that body’s head that Suriname’s electoral laws mandate engagement with the President on the results. Such reckless behaviours were also part of Guyana’s experiences with observers.
The wave of “vulgar diplomacy” and “international dictatorship” is moving this side of the Western Hemisphere. Though disguised as “good” diplomacy it manifests a thug like approach to dictating the interests of “others,” taking advantage of local weaknesses and greedy politicians. The latter willingly compromise national sovereignty and demonstrate a willingness and desperation even to have sanctions imposed on a country they claim to care about.
We are reminded that democracy respects the Rule of Law. The international observers appear not to have taken time to be sufficiently aware and in Guyana‘s case seemed wedded to and dependent on the opposition’s viewpoints and interpretations of same. There comes a time when “enough is enough.” In one’s own country one must never be afraid to stand up and speak forthright to one’s belief and to those who seek to trample on your rights – regardless of the friendly guise used.
This article is not written in diplomatic language. It is rather blunt and to the point because it is necessary to say it as it appears and to put aside the sentiments that make us believe diplomacy is respectful behaviours between friendly nations represented by sensitive, respectful and intelligent diplomats who care about bilateral engagements and relationships of mutual trust and cooperation.
Trade unionists are trained to respect laws and people’s rights. Trade unionists are known for speaking out. We stand up, we fight, and we are not necessarily known for sugar coating diplomacy when lines are crossed. So, the diplomacy is left for those who walk the hallowed halls, seek favours, invitations and visas. The “vulgar diplomacy” and “international dictatorship” must be addressed for what it is.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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