ONE DEATH TOO MANY: Caricom offers to help settle Guyana elections

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Caricom has reached out to the Guyana government and opposition to help resolve tensions in the aftermath of regional and general elections there.

In a statement, Caricom chairman, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said, “I have spoken to both the President and the Leader of the Opposition and indicated that Caricom stands ready to be able to be there to facilitate further dialogue and any actions that are necessary.”

Mottley continued, “We have done this on many occasions in the past, including in Guyana, when elections have been highly contentious and when social order and the rule of law has been threatened across the region.”

Mottley’s statement was issued hours after a protester was shot dead by police in Guyana and even as the acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire heard an appeal to strike out injunctions barring the election body from announcing the official results.

“We are very clear, every vote must be made to count, and transparently so. It is critical that good sense prevail. The preservation of law and order is paramount and all parties must work hard to ensure that there is peace on the roads and in the communities across Guyana. There has already been one death reported overnight. That is one death too many. We have noted that all sides have been making serious allegations against each other,” the statement said.

 “In simple language, we ask the parties to recognise that the primary consideration must not only be who will be President but, moreso, who will be alive come next week or next month, for there cannot be a tolerance for any further loss of life.”

Mottley noted that the offer to help was not unprecedented as Caricom had intervened in similar instances in the past, including in Guyana, “when elections have been highly contentious and when social order and the rule of law has been threatened across the region.”

 “We are family and this is what happens when there are disputes in families. We will work together to create the space for dialogue and resolution once there is an acceptance on the part of all parties that there is a higher interest beyond simply the result in this election.”

According to a Reuters report, Guyana police in a statement said its officers came under attack in the rural West Coast Berbice region after they cleared barricades set up on the road in an Indo-Guyanese community.

The statement said, “Police ranks whilst performing duty on the Cotton Tree Public Road, West Coast Berbice, came under attack by protesters which resulted in several ranks being hospitalised and their attacker dead.”

The ruling A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition and the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP)/Civic coalition have claimed victory in the elections. The PPP/C and international observer missions in Guyana have expressed concerns over the declaration of results in the Demerara-Mahaica region which overturned a lead for the PPP/C in the regional elections in favour of the APNU/AFC.

International observers said giving out partial results was illegal and implored the government to respect the law.

“We call on President Granger to avoid a transition of government which we believe would be unconstitutional as it would be based on a vote tabulation process that lacked credibility and transparency,” representatives from the United States, Britain, Canada and European Union said in a joint statement.

They expressed concern over “credible” allegations of election fraud that could influence the results.

The PPP/C obtained an injunction on Thursday to block a winner from being declared, because the results in Demerara-Mahaica, the most-populous electoral district in Guyana, had not been properly tabulated.

This story updates an earlier version entitled Protester killed in Guyana

A protester was shot dead by police in Guyana as tensions continue to rise, after general and regional elections on Monday. Both the ruling A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition and the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP)/Civic coalition have claimed victory in the elections. 

The PPP/C and international observer missions in Guyana have expressed concern over the declaration of results in the Demerara-Mahaica region which overturned a lead for the PPP/C in the regional elections in favour of the APNU/AFC.

According to a Reuters report, Guyana police said its officers came under attack in the rural West Coast Berbice region after they cleared barricades set up on a road in an Indo-Guyanese community. The statement said, “Police ranks whilst performing duty on the Cotton Tree Public Road, West Coast Berbice, came under attack by protesters which resulted in several ranks being hospitalised and their attacker dead.” The report said Berbice was a sugar-producing region for decades, and sugar mills there were closed by the APNU/AFC government and the PPP/C promised to reopen the mills if elected.

The PPP/C obtained an injunction on Thursday to block a winner from being declared, on the grounds that the results in Demerara-Mahaica, the most-populous electoral district in Guyana, had not been properly tabulated. 

In the House of Representatives on Friday, acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert said TT was not getting involved in the situation in Guyana. He was responding to a question from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal about whether Government had recognised the APNU/AFC as the new Guyana government.

Imbert said, “It may very well be that the member for Oropouche East has better information than the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of TT. We in TT in the Office of the Prime Minister have not yet been informed as to the nature of the new government of Guyana as far as I have seen.” He said according to informal reports the matter is still being determined and therefore the question is premature.”

In a statement on Saturday, Naparima MP Rodney Charles criticised Imbert’s statement about Guyana.  “By his non response, Imbert showed his, and by extension (PM) Rowley PNM’s usual contempt for Parliament especially the question time when Government is called upon to defend its policies, ” Charles said. He claimed Government seemed unaware of a statement from Caricom raising concerns about allegations made about the elections and calling on the Guyana Elections Commission to ensure that all legal and procedural processes are fully complied with. Charles claimed that if TT was consulted, Imbert was not updated on this matter.

Charles said if TT was not consulted, it underscored, “the fact that we are no longer important in Caricom.”  He added that if TT was consulted, Imbert was aware but mis-advised Parliament about his knowledge, and if so, TT’s democracy “is in serious trouble.” Charles said the UNC is demanding that the PNM “stands up and be counted on the principles of democracy and the conduct of free and fair elections in our region.”

The post ONE DEATH TOO MANY: Caricom offers to help settle Guyana elections appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

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