Control of Guyana’s newfound oil wealth is in the midst of the electoral impasse that faces the nation following “the mother of all elections”, according to US- based democracy watchdog The Carter Center.
The Center has since reiterated its commitment to observing the entire electoral process.
Guyana’s Full Court on Tuesday ruled to discharge the injunctions that were put in place by Justice Franklyn Holder following an application filed by APNU/AFC candidate Ulita Moore.
In a public missive issued on Wednesday, one day after the Full Court’s ruling, the Carter Center noted that while “every election is important,” this one was “deemed especially so because, five years ago, Exxon discovered massive amounts of oil off the coast of Guyana.”
The Center, in its missive, observed that the first barrels hit the market in January, saying, “Now, this small, poor nation is poised to become a very rich one, and the country’s two major political parties – which are divided largely along ethnic lines – desperately want to control the coming wealth.”
The democracy watchdog pointed out that the election came over a year after the passage of a no-confidence motion against President David Granger and his Administration in December 2018.
“The ruling party challenged the motion in the courts for months, but lost. The newfound oil revenue, many Guyanese believe, could keep the winner of the 2020 election in power for decades.”
Chair of The Carter Center Board of Trustees, Jason Carter, who led the Center’s Observer Team to Guyana, said that Guyana stands at a crossroads, stressing the importance of a credibly elected Government in the management of Guyana’s oil resources.
“Not only is it critical that this election is seen as credible, it’s also essential that it serves as a springboard to a future that is more inclusive and so that all the people of Guyana can share in this new wealth,” he said.
According to the Center, the governing A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) role in further frustrating the completion of a credible election process was further cemented when an injunction was filed by that party’s supporter Ulita Moore to halt a Caribbean Community (Caricom) supervised recount of votes.
The recount had been agreed upon by the leaders of the APNU/AFC and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic under a CARICOM Initiative.
Director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program, David Carroll, emphasised, “The stakes in this election are very high,” while pointing to the ethnic divide facing the country.
Former US President Jimmy Carter first led an election observation mission here in 1992.
As such, the Center said, of the long history in Guyana where it has been seen “as a trusted partner, it was important for us to observe this election.”
Noting that a month has elapsed since the voters took to the polls, the Center bemoaned the fact that a new President has not yet been sworn in.
In its recommitment to overseeing the completion of a credible election, the Center reminded of the unverified declaration made for Region Four, which is at the centre of the electoral impasse and has resulted in the March 2 election being regarded as flawed and lacking credibility.
The Center, in addition to other international observer missions, subsequently denounced the declaration of unverified results, saying they lacked credibility, and called for a return to the verification process.