EEUU impone restricciones a Guyana
Estados Unidos dijo el miércoles que ha impuesto restricciones a las visas de personas en Guyana implicadas en “socavar la democracia” en la nación sudamericana, donde se realizó una elección contenciosa el 2 de marzo que aún no tiene ganador.
El secretario de Estado, Mike Pompeo, quien no identifico a los individuos afectados, dijo que los gobernantes de Guyana se han negado a aceptar el resultado de un recuento de votos que dio la victoria a la oposición. Dijo que los familiares inmediatos de personas “responsables o cómplices de socavar la democracia” estarían sujetas a las mismas restricciones.
“La trayectoria antidemocrática de Guyana es peligrosa para sus ciudadanos y el hemisferio en su conjunto”, dijo Pompeo en un comunicado. “Espero que los líderes de Guyana comprendan lo que está en juego si continúan por este camino”.
Los esfuerzos para juramentar al presidente David Granger después de la elección del 2 de marzo fueron bloqueados por las cortes, ya que los observadores dijeron que la votación tuvo fallas. Las autoridades en Guyana han sufrido presiones internacionales para que reconozcan oficialmente la victoria de la oposición luego del recuento.
US tells de facto Granger Govt to accept elections results and step aside
Having issued numerous warnings that the United States will not stand by and allow the undermining of democracy in Guyana, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced visa restrictions on those persons and their families who are involved in the rigging of the March 2, 2020 elections.
Pompeo, during a press conference at the State Department on Wednesday, said these visa restrictions can also be applied to the immediate family members of those persons.
“Today I am announcing visa restrictions on individuals responsible for, or complicit in, the undermining of democracy in Guyana. The immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to restrictions,” Pompeo said.
“The Granger Government must respect the results of democratic elections and step aside,” Pompeo, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief in US President Donald Trump’s administration, added.
In a subsequent statement from the US State Department, Pompeo explained that the visa restrictions are not about interference. He said they are rather meant to send a clear message that the US will not tolerate persons in Guyana trampling on democracy and the will of the people.
“On March 2 the Co-operative Republic of Guyana held national elections, but it has still not declared a winner. All international observers of the vote count agreed that the manner in which votes were tabulated departed from established procedures. They unanimously agreed that a result based on these procedures would not be credible.
“The Organisation of American States and Caribbean Community concluded that the recount of votes, which concluded on June 7 and showed a victory for the opposition, reflected the will of the Guyanese people.
“Unfortunately, Guyana’s leaders have refused to accept this result,” he said in the statement.
Pompeo made it clear that the US has no preference for any party, but merely wants that party selected based on a free, fair and credible process. As the recount has shown, that party is the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
“In my public statements since the election, I have been very clear that the United States stands with the Guyanese people, and that there would be consequences for individuals who seek to undermine democracy,” Pompeo’s statement said.
“The events following the March 2 elections indicate that there are forces that have repeatedly refused to accept the will of the people at the ballot box. Guyana’s non-democratic trajectory is dangerous for its citizens and for the hemisphere as a whole. I hope that Guyana’s leaders understand what is at stake if they continue down this path,” Pompeo’s statement added.
This publication has received reports that the list includes several APNU/AFC Ministers, election officials, a prominent financier of the APNU/AFC Government, as well as judicial officers.
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee supports
Meanwhile, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee threw its support behind the steps being taken by the State Department. The committee, which is chaired by Senator James Risch, noted that it is “long past time” for the incumbent to begin the democratic transition of power.
“I applaud the State Department’s actions today to hold accountable Guyanese officials who have undermined democracy and delayed results from Guyana’s March elections. It’s long past time Guyanese authorities begin a democratic transition of power that reflects the confirmed results,” Risch said in his statement via his official social media account.
But Granger, who was celebrating his 75th birthday on Wednesday, in a statement, expressed regret over the visa restrictions announced by the US. According to the statement, Granger claims that he has always abided by the Constitution, and the electoral matter that APNU/AFC initiated is still in court.
“The Executive Branch has not participated in the undermining of the electoral process, and urges all countries interested in Guyana’s development to await the logical conclusion of the process, which is being managed by the Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana,” the statement said.
While the Ministry of the Presidency claimed that the Executive has never interfered in the running of GECOM, the case currently in the court was launched by an APNU/AFC supporter. The case has effectively put a stop to GECOM declaring the results of the recount, similar to what Eslyn David, an APNU/AFC supporter, tried to do previously.
Many have theorized, and the US itself has said, that visa restrictions are only the first step in imposing sanctions on a Government that is in the process of going rogue. US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch herself explained back in May that sanctions can range in seriousness from individual visa restrictions to financial sanctions that can impact the economy.
The national report had shown that the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes, while the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 217,920. GECOM Chair, retired Justice Claudette Singh, had written to Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on four occasions and directed him to prepare a final report based on the Recount.
Instead, Lowenfield, in the first instance, submitted a report invalidating over 115,000 voters based on unsubstantiated allegations of dead and migrant voters made by the APNU/AFC.
The GECOM Chair wrote Lowenfield again on three more occasions, directing him to submit his report; but, instead, he submitted a fraudulent report in which he included the fraudulent declarations of embattled returning Officer for Region Four, Clairmont Mingo, which inaccurately shows that the PPP/C gained 80,920 votes while the APNU/AFC received 116,941 votes in Region Four.
The inaccuracy of those numbers was widely proven during the recount exercise, as it was unearthed that Mingo had heavily inflated the votes in favour of the APNU/AFC to give that party a false victory.
And despite the lack of credibility in Mingo’s numbers, APNU/AFC supporter Misenga Jones went to court on Tuesday, seeking a court order compelling GECOM to use the declarations from the ten Returning Officers, which include Mingo’s, to make a final declaration.
Oral arguments in that case begin on Friday.
Chief Justice expected to rule on Sunday
Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, has given an undertaking to the High Court to put on hold all matters relating to the declaration of the March 2 elections’ results until the determination of the new proceedings filed by another APNU/AFC supporter, Misegna Jones.
In an application filed on Tuesday, Jones is seeking a number of orders from the High Court to essentially bar GECOM from declaring the final results of the elections based on the figures emanating from the National Recount process.
During a virtual case management hearing held by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George on Wednesday, Attorney-at-law Kim Kyte-Thomas, who is representing the GECOM Chair – the second named respondent in the proceedings – assured the court that the seven-member Commission will not take any actions or decisions until the completion of the matter.
“I believe [the GECOM Chair] has conducted herself throughout all these proceedings in a certain manner, and I believe, Your Honour, a similar approach will be taken in respect to these matters. So, I don’t believe there should be any apprehension by any party here that any decision would be made which would somehow make the exercise of this court’s jurisdiction in some form of futility. My client has never conducted herself in that manner,” Attorney Kyte-Thomas contended.
Wednesday’s virtual case was the first time the Supreme Court of Judicature of Guyana has streamed live proceedings from the High Court.
AG’s improper application
This undertaking was given on behalf of the GECOM Chair after an application was made by Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams, who is the fourth-named respondent in the matter. His associate in the proceedings, Attorney Maxwell Edwards, wanted to ensure that the GECOM Chair does not proceed to make any “declarations or decisions” in relation to the issues that were before the Court.
However, both Trinidad Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and Attorney-at-Law Timothy Jonas objected to the AG’s application. Jonas argued that since he is a named respondent in the matter, the AG cannot make an application, whether substantive or interlocutory, when the applicant has not done so.
In fact, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes added, “We expect the Attorney General to be neutral in these matters, and not take a side… It is improper for the Attorney General to be seeking relief as a respondent when the applicant has not made any applications whatsoever.
The applicant’s legal team, which is being led by Trinidadian Senior Counsel John Jeremie, was experiencing technical difficulties at the time, and only made a request for an undertaking by GECOM after the fact. They were nevertheless informed by the Chief Justice that such an undertaking was already given by Attorney Kyte-Thomas on behalf of the GECOM Chair.
Meanwhile, during Wednesday’s case management hearing, Justice George set this Friday for the hearing of oral arguments by the various parties in the matter, and outlined the schedule for that session.
Prior to this, however, she received a number of applications from several other parties that contested the March 2 elections to be enjoined in the proceedings.
These include the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate Dr. Irfaan Ali and General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo. Also joining in the proceedings were: Change Guyana (CG) and The Citizen Initiative (TCI), A New and United Guyana (APNU), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), The New Movement (TNM) and the United Republican Party (URP).
While SC Jeremie had no objection to the additionally parties being added to the proceedings, he expressed concerns that the sheer number of new applicants could delay the case, and he further questioned what they might add to the proceedings.
However, Justice George dismissed those concerns as well as suggestions that she consolidate the applications from the new parties and only adding one to the proceedings to prevent the case from being drawn out.
The Chief Justice noted that it would be difficult for her to choose which party to include in the proceedings.
“In the interest of justice and fairness, I would allow all of the persons or parties, through their counsel, who are seeking to join to do so,” she stated.
On this note, the Chief Justice detailed the timelines by which all the parties in the matter would have to file their written submissions, which would take them into Friday – hours before the scheduled marathon hearing of arguments.
Moreover, Justice George indicated that she is hoping to deliver a decision by Sunday, but this would be dependent on Friday’s proceedings.
The Misegna Jones application was filed in the High Court on Tuesday by Attorney Mayo Robertson, who had also represented Eslyn David, another coalition supporter who had also tried to block the elections’ declaration. That case went all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), and was eventually thrown out.
Among other things, Jones is now seeking a declaration that the Elections Commission does not have the constitutional authority to direct Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield.
This is despite the clear provisions of Section 18 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act No 15 of 2000. Section 18 states that: “the Chief Election Officer and the Commissioner of Registration shall notwithstanding anything in any written law be subject to the direction and control of the Commission.”
The coalition supporter is also seeking a declaration that the GECOM Chair failed to act on the advice of the CEO.
Granger intellectual author of conspiracy to rig elections – PPP
The People Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) says that caretaker President David Granger — who is also the Leader of the PNCR, the leading party in the APNU faction of the Coalition — is behind the blatant attempts over the past four months to rig the March 2 General and Regional Elections in Guyana.
“No doubt, Mr. Granger is the intellectual author, and is in charge of the conspiracy to rig the March 2nd 2020 Election. Not once has he condemned the naked fraud attempted by [Region Four Returning Officer] Clairmont Mingo and [Chief Elections Officer] Keith Lowenfield,” the party said in a statement on Wednesday.
Back in March, Mingo had made two controversial declarations of the Region Four results, Guyana’s largest voting district. Those results were widely criticised by stakeholders as well as the international community as lacking transparency and credibility.
This led to the conduct of a National Recount, during which it was unearthed that the RO had heavily inflated the numbers to give Granger’s Coalition a landslide victory.
According to the Recount Results, the PPP/C won the elections with 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC obtained 217,920 votes – a difference of some 15,416 votes.
Despite directions from the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, CEO Lowenfield has failed on several occasions to submit his final elections report based on the Recount Results. In his two recent reports, he dumped over 115,000 votes in one report which was later invalidated by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), and in the other report, he used Mingo’s discarded figures to give the caretaker Coalition a win.
All of these reports have been rejected by the GECOM Chair, who has since instructed the CEO to resubmit his report using the Recount Figures, otherwise she would have the Deputy CEO prepare and submit the Elections Report in order to pave the way for the final declaration of the March 2 elections results. Lowenfield was supposed to present his report on Tuesday, but this was not done after APNU/AFC supporter Misegna Jones filed legal proceedings to block GECOM from going ahead with the declarations.
According to the PPP/C, this is another attempt to compel GECOM to declare perverted elections’ results so that Granger can steal the next Government.
“Every one of [Granger’s] Ministers (is) on record, in Guyana and overseas, canvassing support for their blatant attempts to corrupt the electoral process, and defending those who are directly carrying out this illicit design,” the party noted.
Among those persons, it said, are caretaker Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Joseph Harmon, Raphael Trotman, Cathy Hughes and Khemraj Ramjattan.
The PPP/C said they have all hurled “vitriolic abuses” at every person and organisation locally, regionally and internationally who dared to criticise their conduct since March 2, 2020.
On the heels of international threats of serious consequences and sanctions if Guyana does not have a legitimate government, the United States on Wednesday announced visa restrictions for individuals responsible for, or complicit in, the undermining of democracy of Guyana. Those persons’ immediate family members are also affected.
The PPP/C, in its missive, said these sanctions against officials of Granger’s government as well as electoral officials are justified.
“These sanctions were long intimated. Granger and his Cabal mocked those who spoke of them. Now that the sanctions have finally come, he sanctimoniously pleads his and his Government’s innocence. Everyone acquainted with the facts would agree that the sanctions are justified in the circumstances,” the party noted.
However, in response to the US’ announcement, Granger’s caretaker administration denied participating in the undermining of the electoral process, or interfering with the functioning of GECOM.
But this, according to the PPP/C, is classic David Granger at work.
“Guyanese are well aware of the deceptive strategy of Granger; that is to say, remaining in the background and orchestrating his minions, including Ministers of his Government, candidates and leaders of his political party, his Commissioners at GECOM, and even his party supporters, to front his unconstitutional, undemocratic, illegal and sinister political agenda, and when they are exposed, he appears in the public with a glib denial of any wrongdoing and repeats his sanctimonious pledge to obey the Constitution, to adhere to the rule of law, to comply with court rulings, and to promise non-interference with the operation at GECOM,” the party noted.
It went on to detail that this is exactly the approach reflected in Government’s response to the US today. The party pointed out that in addition to denying undermining the electoral process, the Coalition Government is also urging all “to await the logical conclusion of it, which is being managed by the Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana”.
The PPP/C posited that “Guyana, the Caribbean, and indeed the Western Hemisphere can bear testimony, first hand, to Granger and his Government’s multiple, transparent and vulgar attempts at undermining the electoral process and interfering with GECOM in the discharge of its mandate in conducting elections and declaring the legal results of those elections.”