KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The chairman of the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM on Wednesday defended his decision to “interfere” in the political situation in Guyana insisting that it was important for democracy to be have been maintained in the CARICOM country.
Gonsalves, who is also the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, told listeners to his weekly radio programme on Wednesday that soon after President Irfaan Ali had been sworn into office on Sunday, he telephoned him to congratulate him on his victory.
Ali, 40, was sworn into office a few hours after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had declared him the winner in the presidential elections over the incumbent David Granger and also gave the People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) victory over the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
GECOM had given the results based on the outcome of the national recount that had been supervised by a three-member CARICOM team after both the APNU and the PPP/C had claimed victory. The APNU has since said it intends to file election petitions challenging the election results.
“I spoke to both President Ali and Vice President (Bharrat) Jagdeo on the morning after they were sworn in. Message of thanks for CARICOM were sent by them to the CARICOM Secretariat and to myself as chairman of CARICOM.
“We issued a message…welcoming the declaration (by GECOM). What precipitated the final declaration was the decision by the Chief Justice first and then by the Court of Appeal unanimously strike down another effort to drag this thing on”.
He told radio listeners then when he wrote the personal editorial on Guyana “the crazies here in St. Vincent add the Grenadines and the wilder persons associated with the former government in Guyana, you know how bitterly they denounced me, saying I was spewing the agenda of the PPP.
“I repeated then and I do now that I had metaphorically no dog hunting in the race. All I wanted to see was democracy in Guyana. That the will of the people be respected,” he said, adding “it is strange that because he had defended democracy in Guyana, a New York based Guyanese organisation, which had given an award for democracy had decided to withdraw that award.
“It is the first time a man who got a prize for democracy has had it withdrawn for standing up for democracy. Well that will tell you something about that organisation, not about me,” Gonsalves said, adding that he has no knowledge as to whether he had returned home with the “award” or left it behind in the United States.
The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) said its board of directors had voted unanimously last week to revoke the Democracy Prize it had awarded to Gonsalves saying the move “was yet another fallout from Gonsalves’ controversial role in the Guyana elections.
“Gonsalves has backed Guyana’s opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which claimed it won the March 2, 2020 for which there are no declared results,” the CGID said then, adding that he also angered d Guyanese by claiming that the incumbent APNU lost the elections and that Granger should “take his licks like a man,” and give up power.
Gonsalves said that the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) had taken the opportunity to link itself with the took the opportunity during the CGID “and a narrow group of people in Guyana who wanted, clearly to disallow the people’s will and seeking to use the law to subvert the will of the people.
“It is not surprising that the NDP would have done that because in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the NDP has sought to use the law to subvert the will of the people in the last elections. We won the elections fair and square, all the observer missions….everyone of theme said the elections reflected the will of the people.
“But more important that all the observers, when the evidence was tested in court….the evidence was presented, documents presented and everything was turned inside out by the judge, examination in chief….and the judge ruled that the petitions…had failed”.
He said the NDP wanted to support what “this narrow group wanted to do in Guyana to deny the verdict of the people.
“Free and fair election, verdict of the people, challenge it if you want by petition, just like how the NDP challenged here and lost,” he said, adding that the intention was “to undermine the will of the people”.