WASHINGTON – Guyana on Tuesday urged the international community to await the final results of the disputed March 2 regional and general election while also criticising the position of the former Jamaica prime minister Bruce Golding that Georgetown had failed the litmus test of democracy and that there was gloom and doom in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Karen Cummings, addressing a special sitting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) on the Guyana elections, said that President David Granger has on numerous occasions given an undertaking that he would abide by the decision of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) regarding the polls.
“Guyana is a democratic nation and intends to remain so. Further there is no breakdown in law and order in Guyana. Guyana continues to remain a peaceful, law abiding state and throughout this lengthy process, which has been guided by several constitutional provisions, the people of Guyana have remained patient, calm and peaceful.
‘The international community should therefore also be patient and not seek to influence unduly the constitutional and legal processes which are currently ongoing in Guyana,’ Cummings told the OAS meeting.
She said that GECOM cannot announce any winner of the elections “until the litigation process is completed.
‘This delegation wishes to reiterate and as recognised by the OAS Observer Mission and other international observers that the general and regional elections on March 2, 2020 were free, fair and orderly and conducted according to the laws of Guyana”.
But she said after the voting had taken place “there were developments regarding our electoral process which caused an extensive delay in an official declaration of the results”.
She said despite the delay, there is evidence that “Guyana remains governed by the rule of law with full respect for the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary”.
She said that the completion of the electoral process rests ‘solely in the hands’ of GECOM and that Granger “has stated publicly on numerous occasions that he would abide by any declarations that the GECOM chairperson makes in keeping with the laws of Guyana.
“To date the chairperson of GECOM has not made a declaration on these elections,” she said reiterating the position adopted by Granger on the matter.
In his report to the OAS Permanent Council, Golding, who headed the OAS Observer mission to the elections gave what OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro described as “very professional report outlined the various stages taken to ensure the process was free, fair and transparent and all but indicated that the election was won by the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) over the ruling coalition, a Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
He praised the Guyana population for waiting the outcome of the “process that was well conducted on election day” despite to railroad to declare the eventual winner.
“There must wholeheartedly be commended for this. They deserve a peaceful transition of government based on the majority vote reflected in the recount and in support of democracy and the rule of law.
“A litmus test of any democracy is the peaceful and orderly transfer of power if that is so ordained by the express will of the people. Sadly Guyana has failed that test,” Golding said, adding “the people of Guyana are not to be blamed , they expressed their will in a commendable peaceful and orderly manner on March 2, but the pernicious action of a few have reeked considerable damage to Guyana’s image and reputation”.
He said that even if this “debacle is soon and satisfactorily resolved it would perhaps take a generation and significant institutional reform for that damage to be fully repaired.
‘The people of Guyana did not deserve this,” said the 72-year-old Golding, who served as prime minister of Jamaica from September 2007 to October 2011.
But Guyana’s Attorney General, Senior Counsel, Basil Williams, who like Cummings said they had taken note of both Golding and Almagro’s statements, said “the picture of doom and gloom” painted in Guyana was not the reality.
“Certainly it is not one if you are on the ground here that you would believe that type of chaotic situation exists.
“We have had a long tradition going from Roman Dutch law and the English Common law …of a fine judicial system that Mr. Golding himself could attest to in Guyana and I believe that it is a very great characteristic that the Guyanese people are litigious and they would not go and…raid police stations and shoot them up or indulge in any other violent acts, but they will of course seek recourse in our courts.
“That is very laudable in all what that is happening, the Guyanese people have remained calm…because they know of a system of law that they could have recourse to and there are winners and losers in the system and so we just have to abide by the outcome of the judicial process,’ Williams said.
Almagro told the Council that there have been many “attempts to legally block the results” of the elections and that “Guyana has remained hostage to electoral officials”.
He reiterated that there had been agreement by all stakeholders regarding the need for the recount to be undertaken in the presence of the CARICOM Observer team and that it was conducted in a “professional and transparent manner..
“We need to accept the results,” he said, urging that the transition should be “peaceful”
The OAS Secretary-General, who had requested the special meeting of the Permanent Council said there was need to decrease the “political tensions in the country” and that government and all stakeholders should work together to strengthen democracy.
He said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has also made it imperative for Guyana to settle down with a duly elected government and deal with the situation.