News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar.13, 2020: “Every vote must be made to count.”
That was the word from CARICOM Chair and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, as she wrapped up a two-day visit to Guyana Thursday along with four other regional prime ministers and the head of the Caribbean Community.
While saying they met with all sides including the President and executives of the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change, (APNU/AFC) as well as the leader of the main opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, Presidential candidate of the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic Irfan Ali and other members of the executive of PPP as well as representatives of the smaller parties, Mottley stressed that she hopes the Returning Officer of the controversial region, Region 4, Clairmont Mingo, “will understand that he holds in his hands the future and stability of Guyana as we go forward.”
“We can’t say it any clearer. And also it must appear to be so in the presence not just of the Observers but more importantly of all of the parties who contested the election because everyone has a right to be able to determine whether the process is fair to them. And also, whether they have the right to ask for a recount,” she said.
PM Mottley added that the country is on the “cusp of making every Guyanese a winner and not a loser.”
But she said: “Our fear is that if the process is not transparent, that we put at risk too much, and I therefore hope that the people of Guyana will work together to ensure that there is calm; there is peace.”
Her statement, seated with the other male prime ministers who accompanied her on the peace mission came as Mingo was on Thursday afternoon threatened
with contempt of court proceedings by Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall on behalf of Reeaz Holladar.
The letter accused Mingo of acting in violation of the ruling by Chief Justice Roxane George- Wiltshire in her Wednesday ruling, by refusing to ascertain the votes recorded in favor of the lists of candidates in accordance with the Statement of Polls (SOP). The letter stated that Mingo instead chose to use a pre-prepared spreadsheet as the basis for ascertaining and adding up the said votes.
The letter came as The European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission wrote to Mingo asking to see the Statements of Poll that he used to prepare a spreadsheet of results which is intended to be utilized for the declaration of results for Demerara-Mahaica.
The requests also came as Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, suspended the tabulation process of votes from Region Four to read the written ruling of Chief Justice (CJ) Roxane George delivered Wednesday.
The OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Guyana, led by the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, last night said it “is dismayed that in spite of the ruling of the High Court on March 11, the Guyana Elections Commission was not able to move ahead today, March 12, with the tabulation of the results for Region 4.”
The Mission noted that the ruling requires the Returning Officer or Deputy Returning Officer for Region 4 to comply with Section 84 (1) of the Representation of the People Act in ascertaining the election results for the Region.
“This provision stipulates that the Returning Officer shall, in the presence of the persons legally entitled to attend, which includes the duly appointed candidates and counting agents, add up the votes for each party list in accordance with the Statements of Poll. Aside from the ballots themselves, the Statement of Poll is the authentic record of the number of votes cast for each party list,” the OAS said.
“The refusal of the Returning Officer to demonstrate that the numbers being added up are the numbers that appear on the Statements of Poll lacks transparency and is cause for grave suspicion,” the OAS Statement added. “Any declaration issued on this basis is bound to be questioned and the Mission would be obliged to so advise the Secretary General.”
US WEIGHS IN
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, (R-FL), called for the “completion of a peaceful, free, and fair electoral process in Guyana.”
“At a time when Guyana’s democratic future is at stake, the U.S. must stand in support of the preservation of the rule of law and democratic transition of power as established by the nation’s constitution,” he added. “It is critical that all actors call for maintaining social order and defend Guyana’s constitutional order.”
Rubio is the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.
And as the Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael G. Kozak, said in a Twitter post Thursday that de facto regimes do not receive the same treatment from the US as democratically elected governments.
“We join the Guyanese people and the international community in calling for Guyanese election authorities to follow accepted procedures and allow international election observers to verify the results,” he added. “It is essential that the High Court-mandated elections tabulation in Guyana be concluded in a free, fair, and transparent manner.”