Credible recount an opportunity to avoid sanctions – EU Ambassador


[Republished from the Guyana Times]

…reminds that undemocratic Govt will not be recognised

Once the national elections recount is credibly completed and the results generated accepted, Guyana will avoid being hit with sanctions from the European Union (EU) – which has once again warned that cooperation will be suspended if democracy fails.

This is according to the Head of the EU Delegation in Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto, who, during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, expressed that “the best thing I would like to do about sanctions is to prevent them.”

Concerns are being raised about the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition gearing up to reject the results emanating from the recount exercise. They have already been refusing to sign off on the Certificates of Recount for district tabulation for several regions.

EU Ambassador Fernando Ponz Canto

But Ambassador Ponz Canto reminded that the current recount is a “window of opportunity” to avoid sanctions.

“I want to be positive…there is a window of opportunity … it’s really no good that three months have passed since the elections and you still don’t have a fully established democratic Government.”

“But there is still an opportunity that everything ends well and by that, I mean that the party that won the popular vote on March 2 is recognised as the winner of the elections and forms a Government,” the EU diplomat said.

Referring to the Cotonou Agreement – of which Guyana is a signatory – Ambassador Ponz Canto asserted that cooperation will be suspended if democracy fails.

The Cotonou Agreement is the framework of cooperation under which the EU works with the 79 countries of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group, including Guyana.
On March 13, the EU – along with the ABC countries – warned political players against leading Guyana into “isolation” by swearing in a President on the basis of results that are not credible.

The warning was made on the heels of remarks by agents of the APNU/AFC who were determined to have their Presidential Candidate, David Granger, sworn in on the basis of flawed results.

During the interview, the EU Ambassador reiterated that the “tabulation process for Region Four was not credible, [it] was not reflecting the will of the people, it was following a process that was not the right process.”

He went further to remind that the EU will not be recognising any undemocratic Government.

“If anybody thinks that we are going to change our position on that, because of time or because of other considerations, let me tell you that there are zero chances of that,” he asserted, clarifying that “change our position on the fact that if a non-democratic Government was to be installed, we will not deal with that as a democratic partner.”
But asked what would be the EU’s position should the results from the recount be rejected by one of the political parties, Ambassador Ponz Canto was optimistic that this would not happen.

Pointing out that the recount exercise was agreed upon by the top leaders from both sides of the political divide, he stated that “I trust that they would do everything in their hands to make sure that the recount results are respected. When I say results, let me be very clear, I mean the counting of the votes, the quantitative counting of the votes, which in my humble understanding is the objective of any recount exercise.”

The EU Ambassador further highlighted that the purpose of a recount is to “count” and there are other avenues to address any other issues that may arise from the process.
The EU Ambassador reasoned that, so far, the recount process has proven to be “excellent”, and if at the end the recount is still excellent, “then the quantitative results are also accurate, and then they have to be recognised.”

Just last week, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo pointed out that only credible recount results can stave off sanctions.

Earlier this month, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah Ann Lynch also warned that sanctions are still on the table for Guyana over electoral fraud.

Like the EU Diplomat, she too noted that there is still an opportunity for Guyana to avoid sanctions from the US. “We are hopeful though, that we don’t have to go down that road. Even if they’re at the ready, those tools, we don’t want to go down that road. And we’re in this recount process right now. My observation is that it’s going well,” she had stated.