I’m very confident’
GUYANA’s President David Granger on Monday declined to criticise his Caribbean Community (CARICOM) colleagues over the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in his country, saying that “it’s premature for anybody to make a declaration.
“Nobody has won, nobody has lost; I will not criticise Prime Minister [Mia] Mottley,” Granger told the Caribbean News Agency (CMC), referring to the Barbados’s Prime Minister, who is also chairperson of the 15-member regional integration grouping. “I know the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. [Keith] Rowley, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines [Dr. Ralph Gonsalves] made statements. We’re colleagues, we’re friends; they were here [in Georgetown] and they have the best interest of Guyana.”
Granger said that he has “tremendous respect” for Mottley, who, along with four regional leaders visited Guyana in March as the country awaited the official results of the elections. Mottley last Wednesday in a statement said, “Many of us have observed with great sadness what has been transpiring in Guyana. It is more than 100 days since the people of Guyana went to the polls and yet there is no declared result. From the very beginning, we have been clear and said consistently that every vote must count and every vote must be made to count in a fair and transparent way.”
But she added that, “Regrettably, we have seen a level of gamesmanship that has left much to be desired and has definitely not portrayed our Caribbean Region in the best light. This is definitely not our finest hour, and we must not shy away from that reality,” said the CARICOM chair, adding that CARICOM “is concerned at reports that the chief elections officer has submitted a report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), 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 witnessed by representatives of the political parties.”
Granger told CMC that it was “premature to speak of the outcome of the process,” pointing out that the process “calls for four parts, including the validity of the votes. “Some observers feel it’s just recounting, but it has to be validated, followed by a report. It’s premature for any declaration before the three stages are completed. No declaration has been made. This is 119 days, 17 weeks exactly from the time of participating in the general elections. The sequence is logical – no rules have been broken,” Granger said. “I don’t want to advise my [CARICOM] colleagues – all five of them were here. I will just ask that they wait on the chairman [of GECOM] and ask them to have patience. Only the chairman [retired Justice Claudette Singh] can make a declaration. She has enormous powers, and I’m satisfied with her ability. I’m confident GECOM will be able to complete its work and make a declaration,” he added.
Granger said as part of the verification process, “numerous abnormalities and anomalies have come to light. It came to my attention that ballots were cast for people who were dead or living overseas; some ballot boxes were opened with no supporting documentation,” he said. “What is happening is that the chief elections officer has been able to observe the abnormalities. The question under the law is the validity of the votes – not the totality of the votes. “The criticism levelled at my government is misplaced. I can’t accept the criticism. It’s a legitimate process. I have full confidence in the commission.” The main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) claimed it has won the elections, based on the recount that ended on June 9. But Granger’s ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), maintained that there were too many anomalies and irregularities and wanted the polls annulled. The Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s highest court, last Wednesday issued an order that would continue to put on hold the Court of Appeal’s ruling regarding the disputed elections. The CCJ will this Wednesday begin hearing arguments about whether it has jurisdiction to hear the appeal filed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP/C presidential candidate Irfaan Ali, in relation to the Court of Appeal‘s ruling. “I’m very confident that the effort of the coalition will result in our favour. But let me say, the elections will be close, but I don’t expect a landslide.”