While declaring that the current political situation in Guyana is not showcasing the Caribbean at its finest, Chairman of CARICOM and Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley today questioned the report submitted to the Guyana Elections Commission by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield.
In a statement, Ms. Mottley said CARICOM has remained consistent that every vote must count and every vote must be made to count.
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.
The CARICOM Chairman said the report by the CEO is worrying.
“The Caribbean Community is concerned at reports that the Chief Elections Officer has submitted a report to the Guyana Elections Commission 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 indeed witnessed by representatives of the political parties”, Prime Minister Mottley said.
She also referenced the work done by the CARICOM high-level team which scrutinized the vote recount for more than 30 days.
According to Mottley, “the CARICOM Observer Team was of the unshakable 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 the Guyana Elections Commission led to an orderly conclusion on which the declaration of the results of the election could and would be made”.
Mottley said she wants to know on what grounds can the Chief Elections Officer of Guyana invalidate one vote.
She said “we must ask on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Election Officer determine that he should invalidate one vote far less over 115,000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by the Officers of the Guyana Elections Commission in the presence of the said political parties”.
Mottley said there is a clear and accepted route to deal with allegations of fraud coming out of the elections and that would be through an election petition.
But it was Mottley who led a team of five CARICOM Prime Ministers to Guyana just after the elections when allegations of fraud were raised about the Region Four declarations. That visit led to meetings with the political leaders and the eventual decision to have a recount of all of the ballots with a CARICOM team scrutinizing the process.
Today, the Barbadian Prime Minister said she is also concerned about the Guyanese being frustrated by the events that have been occurring since the 2nd March elections.
“Any attempt to provide numbers different to those certified by the staff of the Elections Commission has left many in shock and wondering what next will happen to frustrate the will of the Guyanese people”, Mottley said.
The CARICOM Chairperson said it is the view of the Community that no voter should be disenfranchised in determining the credibility of the elections.
The CARICOM Chair has called once again on Guyanese citizens to be patient and understand that no electoral process could replace any of their lives.