CARICOM calls for peaceful and lawful completion of election process in Guyana

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

GEORGETOWN, Guyana –  Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados has called for good sense to prevail in Guyana so that there can be “a peaceful and lawful completion” of the election process there.

Allegations of fraud and violent protests, which have so far resulted in one death, have characterized the period following the March 2 voting. The main issue surrounds the verification of votes in Region Four, the largest electoral district, which led to the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) securing a court injunction to block the declaration of results.

The PPP/C’s move followed the failure of Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo to allow the completion of the verification process for Statements of Poll in Region Four. The unverified results put the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) coalition in the lead over the PPP/C by just over 59,000 votes.

In a statement issued over the weekend, Mottley said CARICOM “calls on the electoral officials in Guyana and the representative political parties to work together to achieve a peaceful and lawful completion of the electoral process in Guyana by ensuring the tabulation of the results in all regions using the Statement of Polls in a transparent manner in the presence of the representatives of the political parties and the electoral observers”.

“We are very clear — every vote must be made to count, and transparently so. We have noted that all sides have been making serious allegations against each other. It is critical that good sense prevails. 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,” she added.

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

Mottley was making reference to the death of 18-year-old Sewdat ‘Devon’ Hansraj last Friday night. He was fatally shot during an alleged cutlass attack on police during protests in Cotton Tree Village, in the rural West Coast Berbice region.

The CARICOM Chairman said she has spoken to both President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, indicating that the 15-member regional body “stands ready to be able to be there to facilitate further dialogue and any actions that are necessary”.

“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 have 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,” Mottley’s statement concluded.