‘I have every confidence in recount’ – CARICOM Secretary General

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CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque says he has “every confidence” in the work conducted by the high-level CARICOM delegation in Guyana during the recount exercise.

Ambassador LaRocque was at the time delivering remarks at the 20th Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which was held virtually earlier today.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the independent CARICOM Observer Team to the recount of the Guyana General and Regional Elections, for their personal sacrifice to answer the call to service. The Team was in Guyana, by invitation, and willingly spent 46 days during the pandemic. I have every confidence in the work they have produced,” the CARICOM SG told regional heads.

The Secretary General explained that over the past six months, the region was faced with many challenges, including having to deal with the on-going electoral crisis in Guyana, “as we sought to maintain the reputation of the Community as a bastion of democracy”.

He reminded that five Prime Ministers, one third of the leadership of the Caribbean Community, visited Guyana, to hold talks with the political leadership in an effort to resolve the electoral crisis and to ensure that democracy prevailed in the end.

Ambassador LaRocque had received the Report of the CARICOM Observer Team on 15 June, 2020. The Team was led by Ms. Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), and included Mr. John Jarvis, Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission and Mr. Sylvester King, Deputy Supervisor of Elections of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The regional bloc has been very firm in its stance for the results of the national recount to be used as the basis by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the declaration of a winner.

New CARICOM Chair, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, had made it clear that CARICOM will not tolerate the setting aside of the recount results.

“I am satisfied that CARICOM will not stand by idly and watch the recount which was properly done for the results to be set aside,” Mr Gonsalves had said during a recent NBC Radio Programme.

“When you take part in an election, there is always a chance that you will lose, and if you lose, like sir Arthur [Lewis] said: ‘Take your licks like a man’,” the incoming CARICOM Chair had remarked.

The recount exercise shows that the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) won the elections, garnering a total of 233,336 votes – a difference of 15,416 over its main political rival, the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Coalition.

Meanwhile, earlier today, during his address, Gonsalves, praised the work of his colleague Outgoing Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, for her “brilliant leadership” more particularly, her efforts in attempting to resolve the political impasse in Guyana inspite of the “unwarranted” attacks against her by certain elements “who ought to know better”.

“Her helpful initiatives to assist in the preservation of democracy in Guyana within the terms of the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society will be long remembered, despite unwarranted, vulgar and opportunistic criticisms of her from jaundiced sources who ought to know better,” Gonsalves said.

Mottley, had stated that CARICOM expects the results of the elections to be declared on the basis of the national recount.

She had also expressed concern over Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield’s attempt to discard over 115,000 valid votes and hand a ‘victory’ to the APNU/AFC in spite of the recount results showing that the PPP/C has won the elections.

Earlier today, respected Caribbean scholars and practitioners; W. Andy Knight and Winston Dookeran, joined mounting calls for Guyana’s caretaker President David Granger, Leader of the APNU/AFC Coalition, to immediately concede defeat and allow for a smooth transition of government so that the country can get on with its development efforts.