HERE we go again. Just when it was thought that good sense had prevailed, and that those who had previously sought to inject themselves into the centre of Guyana’s elections impasse had backed away from that stance, we are now visited by a new round of threats. After much charges and counter-charges, the Court of Appeal, in keeping with its original and final jurisdiction on Monday last ruled that the President of Guyana can only be declared on account of valid votes. One could not ask for a more unambiguous ruling than that.
The PPP has since moved to the CCJ to ask that it finds that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter, and that its ruling on the substantive matter was unconstitutional. We view that move as an act of desperation, as both the Guyana Constitution and the CCJ Act recognise the finality of the Court of Appeal’s ruling. But rather than waiting on the outcome of the challenge by the PPP to the CCJ, the OAS, the Commonwealth, the ABCE representatives, and the CARICOM Chair are all in unison directing GECOM to declare the PPP the winner of the election. They, of course, hide their preference behind what they refer to as the certified votes cast at the election.
Let us first make it clear that the level of entanglement in an election as is being displayed by these foreign actors raises the question about their motives. A perusal of their utterances in the past, and the ones yesterday suggest a pattern of coordination and possibly collusion that has all the markings of something other than concern for free elections. This publication is of the firm view that Guyana is now caught in the midst of a geopolitical “gamesmanship”, to borrow a term from the CARICOM Chair. None of the representatives of the organisations and countries named above would ever permit an outside force to meddle in their elections in the way they have behaved in Guyana before and after March 2.
The recent statements completely ignore the jurisdiction of Guyana’s Court of Appeal and its ruling on Monday. They are also asking the Chief Elections Officer to do the same, and present a report based on a tabulation of valid and invalid votes. The Court’s ruling implicitly and explicitly makes a distinction between valid and invalid votes when it made clear that only the former can be used to determine the election of a president. It means, then, that these forces are asking the CEO to disobey the court. Such a request or directive by them amounts to a violation of the rule of law that the CEO must reject.
We stand with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who, on an APNU+AFC programme called on these organisations and forces to “back off.” Later, speaking on the Mark Benschop radio programme, he made reference to regime change” to describe their behaviour. Guyana is a sovereign country, and should be treated as such. We should not allow others to determine for us who governs our country. Non-interference in the internal affairs of another country has long been the cornerstone of internal relations, and we adhere to it.
In her brazen presentation, the CARICOM Chair, among other things, urged that the CEO and GECOM at large accept the CARICOM observer report. She must know full well that that report was exposed for what it really turned out to be: The most inconsistent, inadequate, and biased elections report to emerge from a regional team in recent times. As our Prime Minister observed, “If you observe the ballots for 18 per cent of the entire country, and you conclude that there were defects in the polling, and that the process is ‘reasonably credible’, how do you expect anyone to conclude… They’re not saying that it is absolutely credible, and we can verify that the elections have been credible. And so, the Chief Elections Officer, on whom the Constitution places the responsibility to pronounce on the credibility issue, in compiling the report for the results to be announced, said… “I cannot conclude that these elections have been fair and credible’”
Many Guyanese are correct to speculate what next for these foreign forces. Are they trying to influence the outcome of the case before the CCJ? Are they trying to bully the APNU+AFC to concede the election to the PPP, based on the tabulation of invalid votes? Is CARICOM going to kick Guyana out of CARICOM? What about the OAS and the Commonwealth? Are they contemplating the same? Are the ABCE countries going to send troops into Guyana? Whatever the answers to these questions, it is clear that these are serious times for Guyana.