Jun 07, 2020 News
– fmr. Bajan Ambassador to US, John Beale, says violation of democracy here has regional implications
Former Barbadian Ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of the American States (OAS), John Beale, yesterday launched a broadside against President David Granger, warning that a breakdown in democracy in Guyana would have repercussions across the region.
In a press release issued yesterday, Beale, referred to the recent report from the OAS that cited the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) refusal to release “important documents” to the OAS observer team.
In that report, the OAS had specifically cited GECOM’s repeated refusal to furnish the Region Four Statements of Poll (SoPs), despite several requests, particular after the revelation of the manipulation of the recorded votes by Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo.
“Numerous opportunities have been given to the President of Guyana, David Granger,” Beale stated, “to come clean and while he gives the impression that he supports free and fair elections, his actions do not. Indeed, he is being described in Caribbean political circles as a “Sanctimonious Gangster”.”
Beale is the second senior level former regional diplomat to have explicitly harsh words for the President’s conduct over the past few months.
Writing in Trinidadian daily, Newsday, at the end of March, former Trinidadian Ambassador to the United States and the OAS, Reginald Dumas, in a column entitled, ‘Confusion now hath made his masterpiece’, had argued: “I would be hard pressed to find anyone in TT who doesn’t believe that a determinedly cynical and focused attempt is being made by the David Granger administration and its votaries to stay in office.”
That sentiment is repeated and expanded upon on in Beale’s release.
“Based on his actions,” wrote Beale, “I am prepared to predict that Granger will not accept the results of the elections (the recount, so far, shows that he will lose), and he will do everything possible, including disregarding the rule of law, to remain in power. His actions could include fomenting civil strife in order to declare a state of emergency and martial law, allowing him to rule by decree with the backing of a cabal around him.”
As the month-long recount draws to a close, expected as early as today, the Granger administration has been facing increasing pressure to commit to the outcome of the recount.
The President himself has deliberately and repeatedly avoided making such a commitment, insisting instead of saying that he will abide by the decision of the GECOM, or “any declaration” that the Commission makes.
Complementary and concurrent to this refusal to the outcome of the recount, the President’s party representatives have repeatedly attacked the legality and the credibility of the process.
Before the recount got off to a start, one of the President’s candidates in the 2020 regional component of the elections, Ulita Moore, had filed a court case to stop the recount on the basis that it was allegedly unconstitutional, even though Granger had held up the process on the premise that he was seeking legal advice, before signing off on it.
Moore, through her attorney and fellow Granger Coalition candidate, Roysdale Forde, had appealed her loss of the case and lost again.
In the middle of the recount, the President’s principal legal advisor Attorney-General, Basil Williams, had made the claim that the recount was illegal, and the Coalition was engaging in the recount simply for diagnostic purposes, a position Forde would give support to.
When confronted with the apparently contradictory message from his two candidates, Granger did not specifically refute that position, saying instead that he was the person to speak on behalf of the Coalition and that he would abide by whatever declaration would emerge from GECOM.
Coalition spokespersons and surrogates subsequently started making the case that the recount results could not be used for a valid declaration.
In the past week, the call has escalated to an annulment of the election, with functionaries as high as former Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, and Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, making the case for the annulment of the elections, even as Granger himself not been seen in public since a brief media appearance two weeks ago.
Beale addressed the Granger administration’s apparent attempt to undermine the recount, noting that, “In the event that Granger does not abide by the official outcome of the elections, CARICOM must act swiftly, not waiting for other countries and institutions, such as the US, UK, Canada, the European Union, the Commonwealth and the OAS to act first, dragging CARICOM in their wake. If Granger does not relinquish power, should the current recount show that his party has lost, CARICOM should immediately suspend Guyana from membership, pending a full return to democracy, and move the headquarters of CARICOM from Guyana to another CARICOM country.”
Like Sir Ronald Sanders, who Beale referred to in his statement, the senior regional diplomat outlined the possible regional repercussions of any departure from democracy in Guyana.
“What Granger does is not just a matter for him and the people of Guyana,” Beale argued, “as a member of CARICOM what happens in Guyana directly impinges on the region as a whole, particularly as Guyana is bound by the CARICOM Treaty and the Charter of Civil Society. Therefore, under no circumstances should CARICOM tolerate violations of democracy, the rule of law and political and civil rights. The latter is a cancer. Once it is not excised in one limb of the CARICOM Group, it will spread to all others.”
Appointed originally in 2009 under the administration of the late Barbadian PM David Thompson, Beale has had a storied career as a top-tier regional diplomat.
A former senior banker, he has been outspoken on various regional issues from regional finance to governance.
“If Granger does not relinquish power,” he closed his statement, “should the current recount show that his party has lost, CARICOM should immediately suspend Guyana from membership, pending a full return to democracy, and move the headquarters of CARICOM from Guyana to another CARICOM country. Not since the 1960s, when former Prime Minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow, described certain Eastern Caribbean leaders as “bandits”, have CARICOM leaders criticised let alone acted against one of their number. It is time for that silence to stop, in the interest of the peoples of the area.”
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