Gonsalves’ remarks comes against the background of GECOM’s anticipation of Phase Two of a four-phase process, which will see the presentation of a report from Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on the summary of a number of observation reports taken during the recount, and the recount figures themselves.
GECOM will then deliberate on the report, and a decision taken on whether the information should be used for a declaration.
On Wednesday’s Edition of “Your Morning Cup with Colvin Harry”, aired on State-owned NBC Radio in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Gonsalves said: “We expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report, and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured, and the Guyana Elections Commission will honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount. And anybody who then wants to challenge anything afterwards can go to court, but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount… I know a lot of opposition parties when they lose, or anybody who loses they say, ‘Oh, so and so thief.’ It’s almost a boring repetition; we get the reports, follow the law and who wins, wins.”
In a release on Thursday, APNU+AFC Election Agent, Joseph Harmon said the Coalition was surprised and disappointed at the remarks coming from Gonsalves, who has chosen to pronounce on a process that is still ongoing, and proposes to direct a constitutional body in another CARICOM Member State, in the execution of its duties.
"Further," said Harmon, "the CARICOM High Level observation team is yet to submit a report of its findings to GECOM, as it is mandated to do in keeping with the gazetted Order. Given these circumstances, it is most unfortunate that Dr. Gonsalves, who is himself currently embroiled in an Elections Petition in his own country, has taken a public position that is prejudicial to the integrity of the process and its eventual outcome.”
There are widespread concerns about how PM Gonsalves’ remarks could affect the actions of the member of the CARICOM Scrutinising Team who hails from St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the crafting of the outstanding report. The APNU+AFC reminded that the ongoing recount process is significant and important, not only for democracy in Guyana, but the wider CARICOM. It said that it is therefore expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or utterances that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusion.
In the meantime, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), in a separate statement, has also rejected Gonsalves' statement which is urging the Guyana Elections Commission to ignore its gazetted Order and declare the People Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) the winner of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
“The PNCR views this statement as a direct interference into the affairs of a sovereign nation, and more particularly the work of an independent Constitutional agency, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Further, Mr. Gonsalves’s direct appeal to influence the CARICOM Observation Team, whose report will form part of documents for GECOM’s consideration, is a blatant attack on the integrity of the CARICOM team; highly prejudicial, and serves only to undermine CARICOM’s efforts at being professional in arriving at a final credible process.”
“The People’s National Congress Reform, therefore, calls on the sitting Chairman of CARICOM, the Right Honourable Mia Motley, to issue a clear statement, distancing CARICOM from Prime Minister Gonsalves’ statement, lest it be interpreted as CARICOM’s intention to scuttle the entire process of arriving at a final credible process. We sincerely hope that there is no irreparable damage to our relations with CARICOM consequently,” the statement added.
PM Gonsalves was among CARICOM Heads who visited Guyana several days after the March 2, 2020 elections, with the aim of assisting in the arrival at a resolution within the Order which was subsequently crafted. These included: Prime Ministers Mia Mottley of Barbados; Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica; Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago.
With the recount having concluded last Sunday, the process has now enntered the deliberative process which awaits a report from the Chief Elections Officer.
The deliberation aspect will take into consideration irregularities pinpointed during the elections, such as counterfoils and ballots carrying the same number; ballots for one region cast in another; ballots cast for the dead and persons who have migrated; persons voting without proper identification; persons voting outside of their districts without employment documents; large numbers of improperly-stamped ballots at locations where Disciplined Services members voted; missing Poll Books and documents from one Polling Station being found in the ballot boxes of another; and Ballot Boxes with no statutory documents.
Data generated from GECOM’s Statements of Recount (SOR) and the accompanying Observation Reports indicate some 7,929 instances of irregularities, which many believe directly affects the validity of 257,173 votes. The act of deliberation was outlined in the gazetted Order, which gave way to the national recount, and which found favour with CARICOM, which later sent a three-member team to scrutinise the process.
- Countries: Guyana
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