DESPITE the engineered noise and overwhelming propaganda aimed at portraying the Government of Guyana as some pariah that is opposed to the values of the global community, a cursory glance at the issue would reveal that Guyana’s current State apparatus is in full conformity with the civic values of the international community. In the context of the current electoral imbroglio, there is certainly enough evidence to merit the argument that the government has a relatively impenetrable case that can withstand the scrutiny of the principles of the organisations and treaties to which they are obligated. For this reason, it is folly to demand that the international community desist from issuing opinions on our current elections impasse; we should welcome the chance to argue an excellent case.
Amid a virtual coup d’etat via electoral fraud, the Government of Guyana continues to fulfill its obligations entrusted by the letter and spirit of the Caribbean community of which it is a founding member. By respecting the independence of the elections commission, by not interfering with the work of the independent judiciary and by advocating for credible valid votes and standing at the opposite side of electoral fraud, the Government of Guyana has done nothing remotely close to shirking the obligations conferred by the CARICOM Civil Society Charter. The charter was designed to promote and hold Caribbean countries to civil behaviour consistent with the principles of the rule of law and democracy. By its posture throughout this election cycle, it is reasonable to opine that the executive arm of the government is in good stead. It is worthy to note that the Charter states: “When the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community affixed their signatures to the Resolution adopting the Charter of Civil Society on Wednesday, February 19, 1997 in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, in so doing they undertook to pay due regard to its principles, thus giving effect to one of the strongest recommendations of the West Indian Commission (WIC) as contained in its report, ‘Time for Action’.”
The West Indian Commission emphasized, “We attach much importance to this proposal for a Charter of Civil Society. CARICOM needs normative moorings; we have found widespread yearning for giving the Community a qualitative character values beyond the routine of integration arrangements themselves can be judged and to which they can be made to conform. The Charter can become the soul of the Community, which needs a soul if it is to command the loyalty of the people of CARICOM.”
It is apparent to me, insofar as the soul of the community comprises of values and principles that do not provide any succor for cheating and dishonesty without accountability, it is reasonable to conclude that CARICOM should be on the side of the Government of Guyana in the current electoral dispute. If the Caribbean Examination Council conducts an audit of a CSEC exam, and widespread fraud is unearthed, the letter and the spirit of the CARICOM Charter would necessitate a forfeiture of that exam, or the separating of the credible valid exams from the ones tainted by fraud. The ‘normative moorings’ advanced by the West Indian Commission were never intended to encourage the lack of accountability. If a review of Caribbean regional cricket competition reveals ball-tampering, missed no-balls and numerous illegalities, the match officials are obligated to make the call and hold cheaters accountable. You cannot allow the perpetrators to win, and suggest that the losers take the issue to the Court of Arbitration. Such posturing is justifiable only in a normal election process that did not have a National Recount where fraud was pellucid. If this approach is allowed, it will represent a dangerous precedent that could rock the foundation of Caribbean values and principles, from the smallest village to the State apparatus.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) Charter on Democracy states, “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy, and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” At the heart of democracy are one man/woman and one credible legal vote. By being a party to the Eslyn David v Chief Elections Officer case, the Gvernment of Guyana, through its Minister of Legal Affairs, argued that the Commission must produce credible results. It appears to me that this is precisely what the Organisation of American States, under its charter on democracy, demanded of every nation that signed on to that agreement; an expectation. In my humble opinion, if subject to deliberation, it is difficult to see a significant number of the 35 nations that make up this organisation finding fault with the approach of the Government of Guyana in this particular circumstance. To reiterate and further elucidate the general thrust of the argumentation contained therein, it is worth the time to briefly highlight the cases of those countries that have run afoul of the principles of this organisation. Countries such as Cuba, Honduras and Venezuela that have been suspended or declared persona non grata by the OAS, were given this treatment due to extreme human rights violations, coups d’etat and wanton electoral fraud. The Government of Guyana can be considered stately altar boys in comparison to these cases. Therefore, it is near impossible to see a resolution being mounted to take action against a government that is passionately promoting democracy while respecting the rights of its citizens.
Chapter 1 of the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles (2003) states: “Each Commonwealth country’s Parliaments, Executives, and Judiciaries are the guarantors in their respective spheres of the rule of law, the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and adherence to good governance.” While this 54-member body might be somewhat perplexed by the Guyana electoral situation because they are unaccustomed to a National Recount, and are distinctly familiar with only the elections petition culture, once they scrutinise the primary sources and sort the facts, it is easy to see that the principles being advocated by the Government of Guyana are consistent with the moorings of this eminent grouping. One might ask, what are those principles? They are undergirded by the need for accountability. If there is a review of a fair contest, in any sphere of commonwealth life and there is the discovery of fraud, the perpetrators must be held accountable immediately. You cannot allow the wretched victor by scam to hold the trophy, and instruct the other competitor to seek redress in the courts.
With an excellent human rights record, protecting the right of citizens to petition the government, and being the advocates for democratic principles, the Government of Guyana is in excellent conformity with the civic principles of the global community.