The Guyana Court of Appeal ruled by a majority of 2-1 that “more votes cast” means “more valid votes cast” and that this should be read together with the gazetted recount order and its amended order that both refer to the determination of “credible” elections by considering the reconciliation of votes with voters’ lists, counterfoils and stubs as well as the presence of other statutory documents.
However, Mottley called the political situation in Guyana over the long-delayed declaration of general and regional elections “gamesmanship” that has tarnished the image of the regional integration movement.
Mottley said CARICOM is concerned that the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield has submitted a report which does not reflect the results of the more than 34-day recount of the more than 460,0000 votes. “Therefore, we must ask – on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate 1 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,” said Mottley, a lawyer by profession.
In his report to the Elections Commission, the Chief Elections Officer said his report showcases the valid votes that were cast in the elections. He said he was guided by the Court of Appeal ruling on the issue of valid votes. His final numbers put the incumbent APNU+AFC ahead of the People's Progressive Party by just over 5000 votes. The undeclared votes from the recount had the PPP ahead by 15,000 votes.
However, Mottley has drawn the ire of Guyanese who are surprised about her behaviour as a head of government and Chair of CARICOM. In addition, her attitude is in spite of the fact that the matter is being heard by the Caribbean Court of Justice, following upon a ruling by the Guyana Court of Appeal, and she as a lawyer being an officer of the court.
“The Honourable Prime Minister, by training, practice, protocol, convention and duty ought to have known that she was stepping out of her crease and trespassing on the sovereignty of a sister nation. The Guyanese people cannot now be expected to ‘hold fire’ in the face of such poisoned interference,” said communications consultant Imran Khan.
“In Guyana, Guyana’s constitution is supreme. In Barbados it is the Barbadian constitution that is supreme. In neither jurisdiction can the constitution be superseded by external reproach. It is difficult to fathom a Guyanese Head of State lecturing, in an objectionable manner, the people of Barbados on how they ought to conduct their electoral affairs or instructing that they disregard their constitution for geo-political convenience in the face of proven electoral fraud,” Khan declared.
Well known Guyanese labour leader Lincoln Lewis exclaims “It is disappointing that none other than the sitting head of CARICOM, a Queen’s Counsel in law, choses to make comments subjudice even as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is yet to hear a case brought before it on the recent election. Evidently forces are at work not to have us conclude this election in a lawful and orderly manner.”
In a letter to the Editor, Lewis observed that “Guyana continues to struggle to conclude its election amidst legal challenges, international interference as to the credibility of the results, and the most recent ruling by the Appellate Court declaration that only valid votes must be counted.
“The Opposition has approached the CCJ to pronounce on the Court of Appeal decisions. It is their right to so do. They and the respondents are entitled to due process to aid closure in our election and this must be respected. Guyana is no less deserving than any CARICOM member-state or any member within our diplomatic community fold to seek resolution through judicial process. All parties in Guyana, inclusive of government, are entitled to pursue legal justice.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, by speaking to an issue before the court, in violation of the sacred tenet of her profession, has sought to compromise herself and the process,” Lewis lamented.
“The disrespect of Prime Minister Mottley, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves or any other Caribbean leader will not be tolerated by Guyanese. Not at this juncture. We will not tolerate this political interference, diplomatic bullyism and our right to resolve our conflicts judicially,” Lewis pointed out.
“Guyanese have choices. We have a genuine opposition and genuine government collectively representing the people of this country. I hope Barbadians are taking note as to where their leader stands with regards to justice through the court,” the Guyanese Labour Leader.
The following is the full text of Prime Minister Motley’s presentation:
Many of us have observed with great sadness what has been transpiring in Guyana.
It is more than 100 days since the people of Guyana went to the polls. And yet there is no declared result. From the very beginning we have been clear and said consistently that every vote must count and every vote must be made to count in a fair and transparent way.
Regrettably we have seen a level of gamesmanship that has left much to be desired and has definitely not portrayed our Caribbean region in the best light. This is definitely NOT our finest hour and we MUST NOT shy away from that reality.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is concerned at reports that the Chief Elections Officer has submitted a Report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) which is contrary to the directions given by the Commission and which does not reflect the results of the recount process as certified by the very staff of the Guyana Elections Commission and witnessed by representatives of the political parties.
Indeed, these numbers and the certification of them were also witnessed by our CARICOM Observer Team. They travelled to Guyana (in spite of the pandemic and the risk to themselves) and they scrutinised the recount process.
The CARICOM Observer Team was of the unshakeable belief that the people of Guyana expressed their will at the ballot box on March 2 and that the results of the recount certified as valid by the staff of GECOM led to an orderly conclusion on which the declaration of the results of the Election would be made.
Therefore, we must ask – on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate 1 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.
We must remind all that If there is any evidence of fraudulent or improper conduct then there is a clear and well accepted route to deal with these matters. It is through an Election Petition to an Election Court.
Any attempt to provide numbers different from those certified by the staff of GECOM has left many in shock and wondering what next will happen to frustrate the will of the Guyanese people.
The role and focus of political parties must be useful and not obstructive in embracing and promoting the clear and expressed will of the people. When we confuse and frustrate that will, is when we begin to sow the very seeds of discord and acrimony that we are sworn to dissuade and discourage.
The Community holds the strong view that no voter must be disenfranchised in determining the credibility of this or any election. It is this commitment to a fair and transparent political process that led us to send 2 Electoral Observation Missions – one for the Elections and one for the recount. In addition, 4 Prime Ministers accompanied me to talk to both sides and to urge patience especially after the death of 1 person.
The Community thanks patience of the Guyanese people and thanks you.
As you await the finalisation of this process, we urge again that you be patient and that you be committed to the fact that no electoral process can replace the life of any Guyanese. There must be room for all regardless of who wins and who loses.
I assure you that the Community remains committed to the people of Guyana and remains resolute that the report of its Observer Mission was very clear in its conclusions as to the will of the Guyanese people as reflected in the recount which they monitored.
- Countries: Guyana
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