Congresswoman Clarke calls for non-interference in Guyana’s electoral process

GEORGETOWN (CMC) — A United States lawmaker says the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must be allowed to carry out its mandate without interference as the country awaits the official results of the recount of ballots in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

“We are maintaining our position that GECOM must be free to do its job without the interference of any group so that we can from this [process] get a free and fair election,” said US House of Representative Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York’s 9th congressional district.

Speaking on a local radio station here on Friday night, hours before the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield is due to present his report before the seven-member GECOM, on Saturday, Clarke said members within her caucus were keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings in Guyana.

“We are monitoring from the congressional side all of the various players that are either interfering or trying to put their thumbs on the scale of the elections in Guyana,” she told radio listeners here.

“We have to respect the sovereignty of nations — of every nation in the world […] We want to ensure the GECOM process is not interfered with so that people can trust the election,” said, Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

There have been criticism as well as support for statements made by St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves that he remains satisfied that the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) grouping “will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside”.

While the statement has gained support from the Opposition People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) and from Owen Arthur, the former Barbados prime minister, who headed the Commonwealth Observer Mission that monitored the March poll, it has been criticised by the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

Both the ruling coalition and the PPP/C have claimed victory with the PPP/C saying that the recount has shown that it won the election by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU has claimed that a number of irregularities and anomalies took place during the voting exercise and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Asked during her radio interview on Friday night of the impact fraudulent votes may have on an election, Clarke expressed the view that it, “goes to the heart of democratic values”, and that such an occurrence would result in a nation, “slipping further and further away from a matured democracy”.

“When the people are governing themselves, that is the ultimate freedom of a democracy,” said Clarke, who was a member of a bipartisan contingent that visited Guyana in January to meet with Government and the parliamentary Opposition on matters related to the elections.

Meanwhile, Lowenfield report will mark the start of the four phases of the recount process in keeping with the amended National Recount Order.

Under the order, GECOM, after deliberating his report, will then advise Lowenfield whether he should use the report to compile another report for an official declaration of the credible results.

Lowenfield ‘s report must include the Statements of Recount (SOR’s) tabulated over the 35 days of the recount, as well as the Observation Reports.

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