President David Granger has said that he was going to accept the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM’)s declaration of the elections results. He is also a signatory to an agreement which binds him to accepting the results of the recount of the ballots cast at the elections of March 2, 2020.
The two are not mutually exclusive. The winner of the recount is the winner of the elections and it is the recount votes which have to form the basis of any declaration by GECOM.
The President of Guyana cannot therefore on the one hand agree to accept a declaration if that declaration is not consistent with the recount results. Any declaration which is outside of the recount results nullifies the recount results which the President agreed in writing to accept.
Leadership is about taking a stand even if the rest of your colleagues are against you.
There is nothing preventing President Granger from publicly announcing his acceptance of the results of the recount. He can bring an end to the country’s electoral crisis if he does this. After all he committed to accepting the results of the recount.
The President also has a responsibility to restrain his supporters from attacking the Caribbean Community and in particular the Chairperson, Hon. Mia Mottley. Criticism of her is one thing but these have careened into distasteful and abusive personal attacks.
Caricom is not interfering in Guyana’s affairs. Guyana is a member of the Caribbean Community. In 1998, the St. Lucia Statement expressed the Community’s resolve to be in the forefront of efforts to assist Guyana as part of its own family. This Statement was signed to by the leaders of both the People’s Progressive Party and the People’s National Congress.
As with any family, if there is a problem then it is the responsibility of family members to get involved. It is moral obligation to assist and this is what has been happening. The sentiments therefore being expressed by APNU+AFC supporters calling on Caricom community to butt out of Guyana’s affairs are misguided.
Guyana is a signatory to the Charter of Civil Society of the Caribbean Community. The Charter expressly obligates member state of Caricom to “ensure the existence of a fair and open democratic system through the holding of free elections at reasonable intervals, by secret ballot, underpinned by an electoral system in which all can have confidence and which will ensure the free expression of the will of the people in the choice of their representatives.”
Caricom is not interfering when it therefore takes an interest in democratic processes. It is upholding the political rights which it has vowed to do under the Charter of Civil Society.
But there is also another fundamental reason why the President should intervene to halt the ad hominem attacks on the Chairperson of Caricom, some of which are homophobic. Caricom’s involvement in the recount process was at President Granger’s invitation. The Community did impose this solution on us. It was President Granger who made the proposal and therefore he is obligated to protect Caricom’s right to pronounce on the process to which it was invited to oversee.
There was widespread local support for recount. An opinion poll conducted, and reported on in the Trinidad Newsday, found that nine out of every 10 Guyanese, supported the recount. It also found a similar support for the Caricom Chairpersons’ role.
Why then is she now being vilified in the most scandalous manner by supporters of the APNU+AFC?
The Chair of Caricom is a legal luminary. She is a Queen’s Counsel, the equivalent of a Senior Counsel. Mia Mottley is the youngest person in her country to have become a Queen’s Counsel and the youngest persons to assume a ministerial portfolio. She was also the former Attorney General of her country.
When she therefore asks by what executive fiat Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer arrogates to himself the right to disenfranchise one, much less 115,000 voters, she is speaking from a position of authority on matters concerning the law.
Criticism of her should not descend into personal vituperation. And this is what the APNU+AFC supporters are engaged in at the moment. Somehow many of them had expected some sort of ethnic loyalty from the Caricom team and therefore anticipated that the report of the Caricom Team would have supported their dishonest and despicable narrative that the elections was tainted by fraud to the extent that it did not express the will of the people.
They were sadly disappointed by the team’s report. As such, they are taking out their frustration through venomous attacks on the Chairperson.
The President should put a stop to these attacks. He should publicly disassociate himself from and discourage this assault on Mia Mottley.
He swore to accept the results of the recount. He has promised to accept GECOM’s declaration. But surely this cannot be taken to mean a declaration outside of the recount.
(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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