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 in statement 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 filed an injunction on Friday 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.”