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Friday, August 14, 2020

Guyana’s president still refuses to accept his election loss. Caricom says it’s time

The 15-member Caribbean Community is calling on embattled Guaynese President David Granger to respect a court ruling on the country’s disputed March 2 presidential and regional elections that would lead to him and his governing coalition turning over the reins of power to the opposition.

Granger and his A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition have refused to accept the findings of 33-day recount led by the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, that found the country’s opposition had won the vote.

Instead, they have called for the vote to be annulled, arguing there were several irregularities and anomalies in the election. The argument was also made by Guyana’s chief elections officer, who ruled out more than 100,000 votes that he said were tainted by fraud and invalid.

The positions immediately led to a court battle because, under the elections chief’s decision, Granger’s coalition would hold onto power.

The Guyana Court of Appeal, which was asked for an injunction to stop the recount report from being presented to the Guyana Elections Commission, ruled that only valid votes should be counted.

Arguing that the Guayana Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction in the matter, the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), led by former president Bharrat Jagdeo, appealed to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which is the final court of appeal for Guyana.

The CCJ sided with the opposition. Under its decision, the recount would stand, making the People’s Progressive Party/Civic the new governing party.

On Thursday, CARICOM and its newly installed chairman, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, joined a growing number of voices from the international community calling for Granger to step down.

“The community calls on all stakeholders to respect the ruling of the CCJ, Guyana’s final court of appeal,” Gonslaves said in a statement on behalf of CARICOM, of which Guyana is a member.

Quoting the CCJ’s summary judgment, Gonsalves said, “The CCJ aptly stated: ‘It has been four months since the elections were held and the country has been without a Parliament for well over a year. No one in Guyana would regard this to be a satisfactory state of affairs. We express the fervent hope that there would quickly be a peaceable restoration of normalcy.’ ”

“Accordingly, the Court’s ruling should lead to a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of the results of the General and Regional Elections held on 2 March 2020, without further delay,” he said. “CARICOM commends the continuing patience and calm of the people of Guyana and calls on all stakeholders to respect the rule of law.”

One of South America’s poorest countries, English-speaking Guayana is poised to be one of its richest after the discovery of oil off its coast. But the post-election chaos is threatening its growth, which economists have projected to become the region’s biggest, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month the Organization of American States, which observed both the vote and recount, called on Granger to respect the results of the recount and begin the transition of power.

According to the Guyanese government’s information site, Aubrey Norton, executive member of the ruling APNU, said he doesn’t agree with the CCJ ruling, saying it ignored pertinent facts related to the recount process.


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