Guyana election stalemate worries Trinidad PM

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Guyana election stalemate worries Trinidad PM
Rowley
Rowley

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) — Prime Minister Dr Rowley says he is “very disappointed and concerned” that a clear winner still has not yet been decided in Guyana’s general election, held over a month ago, on March 2.

He was part of a Caricom delegation which visited that country in a bid to appease tensions between the Government and Opposition, after the election.

The delegation, headed by Caricom chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, also included prime ministers of Grenada and Dominica, Dr Keith Mitchell and Roosevelt Skerritt, respectively.

There have been accusations from within political parties in Guyana as well as international observers about the lack of transparency in the election.

Interview on Friday at his Mason Hall home, in Tobago, Dr Rowley said he talks frequently with Mottley about the political crisis confronting Guyana. “My view is one of disappointment,” he said.

“I am in touch with the chairman of Caricom on a daily basis because we normally communicate at all hours of the night. But, speaking as prime minister and as a Caribbean person, I am very disappointed and also very concerned about the situation in Guyana,” Rowley said.

He added that when he accompanied the team on the mission, three weeks ago, he was hopeful their presence would have borne fruit for the Guyanese people and out of it might have come some position that could have led to a result. “I am worried that an election a month ago is now a court house matter and I am getting a feeling that this is not going to end well. I hope I am wrong.”

Even more disturbing, the PM said, is the fact that the presence of regional scrutineers to oversee counting of the ballots would have led to an outright spurning of Caricom’s gesture and the start of a legal challenge.

“What was even more troublesome to me is that where we thought we had some kind of agreement from the leadership in Guyana, that they put a marker down, let’s count the ballots and we will abide by that count because the ending of an election is the counting of the ballots. It is really the counting of the ballots is the election.”

Dr Rowley continued: “We thought we had instilled that into our colleagues there. So, when we got this agreement and they said, ‘send us a team of scrutineers,’ meaning people who would look at what they were doing because the scrutineers don’t really get involved in the process, we sent our chief elections officer (Fern Nancis-Scope) to be a scrutineer, not to interfere with the process but to look at it and bring comfort to the people of Guyana.”

Dr Rowley said he was certain at that point the outcome would have been decided. “The next thing we know is that presence of Caricom, by invitation, became accusations against Caricom and then a legal process.

So, we had to get out of there, he said, and I don’t know where that leaves Caricom now because having gone in there and having ended up basically as a defendant in the court, I don’t know where that leaves Caricom and that is why I have this very unsettling feeling with every passing day. But I am hopeful something puts an end to this.

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