By Mikaila Prince
De facto Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman is of the opinion that no country which has a constituency of “300 or 400 people” can rightfully advise Guyana, especially with matters pertaining to politics. Trotman uttered these concerning statements on Saturday during an interview where he sought to discuss matters pertaining to Guyana’s elections.
“At the end of the day, this is a Guyana problem; we will have to solve it,” Trotman said as he hinted at Caribbean Heads of States which have made pronouncements on Guyana’s electoral impasse. He was, however, reluctant to repeat those pronouncements.
Instead, he related, “At the end of the day, it comes down to us and what is in the best interest of Guyana and I don’t believe that in this point of time, people who have constituencies of 300/400 people maximum who do not understand the nuisances, the history and the politics of Guyana can rightfully tell us what to do or even give us proper guidance.”
Former Barbadian Prime (PM) Minister, Owen Arthur; current Barbadian PM Mia Mottley; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines PM Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; former Jamaican PM Bruce Golding; and Trinidad and Tobago PM Dr. Keith Rowley, are just some of the regional Heads of States who have issued stern statements with regard to the impasse which has grappled the country since the March 2, General and Regional Elections.
These officials have called for the will of the people to be respected, for democracy to prevail, while also openly denouncing those elements that have been biased in their decision-making.
PM Mottley, in her most recent statement, had conveyed her concern over the actions of Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield who sought to scrap over 115,000 votes
cast in the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
She had deemed the drawn out political process as “gamesmanship” that does not portray the Caribbean region in the “best light”.
Against this background she said, “We must ask – on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate one vote, far less over 115,000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by officers of the Guyana Elections Commission in the presence of the political parties.”
Furthermore, PM Gonsalves, who recently assumed the Chairmanship of CARICOM, had said that the regional body will not stand idly by and watch the results of the recount be set aside. “So the loser of the elections must take his licks like a man,” the PM said.
After he made these and other comments on a radio show, NBC Radio – “Your Morning Cup” in his country, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition and its leading faction, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), both responded in condemnation, calling his comments prejudicial.
Golding, a former Jamaica Prime Minister, had made his remarks about Guyana’s troubled electoral process during a YouTube live on May 13, last. There, he spoke of Region Four Returning Officer (RO) Clairmont Mingo’s tabulation, which has been marred by accusations of electoral fraud and is the principle reason for the National Recount of votes.
Golding who had served as head of the Observer mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) said, “I have never seen a more transparent attempt to alter the results of an election…” Golding also spoke of the OAS mission’s experience of the tabulation for the Hadfield Street declaration of March 5, 2020, as well as the Kingston declaration of March 13, 2020.
He noted the use of a spreadsheet at Hadfield Street, which contained numbers that no one could account for, as the law requires that the entitled officials are to observe the transcription of the numbers from the statements of poll.
Following Golding’s statement, APNU+AFC executive Joseph Harmon said that Golding’s pronouncements were “wholly partisan and unbiased”. Therefore, the party concluded that Golding’s words lack credibility. Harmon had also stated that Golding is a close friend of Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Harmon did not respond to the contents of Golding’s statement, nor did he respond to the verifiable evidence which had surfaced after Mingo’s tabulation was proven to be inflated in favour of the Coalition.
Meanwhile, the report of the CARICOM high-level team which scrutinized the recount caused had stated that overall, while they acknowledge that there were some defects in the recount of the March 02, 2020 votes cast for the General and Regional Elections in Guyana, the team did not witness anything which would render the recount, and by extension, the casting of the ballot on March 02, so grievously deficient procedurally or technically, (despite some irregularities), or sufficiently deficient to have thwarted the will of the people and consequently preventing the election results and its declaration by GECOM from reflecting the will of the voters. The actual count of the vote was indeed transparent.
Earlier in this week, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), in a unanimous decision rendered the decision of the Guyana Court of Appeal in the elections recount case invalid. In addition, the court ruled that Lowenfield cannot disenfranchise thousands of voters, as he did in his report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Notably, members of CARICOM have signed onto the Charter for Civil Society, signed in 1997, which is an instrument of governance on which CARICOM on sovereign countries are based.
This charter sets out objectives to enhance public confidence in governance, to ensure continuing respect for internationally recognized civil, political economic, social and cultural rights, to create a truly participatory political environment within CARICOM, which will be propitious to genuine consultation on the process of governance, as well as other key goals.
Under this Charter, former PM Arthur had said that Caribbean governments commit to have free and fair election, in which they are not only conscious that they are building a regional economy, but also building a regional society and that had to be bound and governed by democracy and good governance.
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