News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Mar. 9, 2020: As tension continues in Guyana one week after its general elections and a top court upheld an injunction blocking the elections commission from proclaiming a winner amid fraud accusations, a non-profit environment and rights campaign group, is accusing the World Bank of engaging in conflict of interest there.
Urgewald, a Germany-based environmental group, which on February 27th accused the World Bank of supporting a “carbon bomb project that endangers entire Caribbean,” is now accusing the Bank of causing a conflict of interest in Guyana.
The group’s claim came in a Guardian report last night, which accuses the World Bank of paying “for Guyana’s oil laws to be rewritten by a legal firm that has regularly worked for ExxonMobil….”
Urgewald, according to the report, said Guyana’s government hired US law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth to revise its Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, which the Bank is paying for with a grant of US $1.96 m.
The issue the group says is while the World Bank reviewed the procurement and found no problem with the hiring of the firm, the company has acted for ExxonMobil for 40 years, including multiple cases involved in climate impacts, such as an action by native Americans in the Alaskan village of Kivalina who argued that the climate crisis was threatening their way of life.
“The World Bank claims to be striving for ‘good governance’ in revising Guyana’s legal framework for oil development,” Heike Mainhardt, senior advisor on multilateral financial institutions at Urgewald, was quoted as saying. “However, they are hiring the law firm who counts among their major clients ExxonMobil – the company leading the oilfield development in Guyana. This is ‘good governance’ for the oil companies, not for the people of Guyana or the global climate. The World Bank is causing a conflict of interest, in effect undermining good governance.”
The news comes as tension and blood shed spilled over on the weekend as the election results remained unsocial and country’s GECOM (Guyana Election Commission) as accused of engaging in rigging of the election in Region 4, one of 10 regions, to favor the incumbent.
Both the incumbent A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance for Chance, who supporters are largely Afro-Guyanese; and the main opposition, the People Progressive Party/Civic, (PPP/C), have claimed victory in the election.
But diplomats from around the world including the US State Department have described credible evidence of fraud in the vote and called for a recount, especially of Region 4.
On Sunday, Guyana’s Chief Justice Roxane George said during a court session that she would begin hearing the case on Tuesday to determine whether elections officials will need to resume verification of votes in Region Four.
The injunction prevents the elections commission from declaring a winner while the court reviews the case.
Protests turned violent over the weekend and an opposition protester was killed by police as the country again appeared split blatantly along racial party lines, with many turning to social media to spew racist, vitriolic diatribe.