Controversy still haunting Guyana election results

KINGSTOWN, ST Vincent (CMC) — St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says 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” in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to announce officially the winner of the polls after the recount was concluded on Sunday in the presence of observers from Caricom and other international organisations.

Both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have claimed victory.

The PPP/C said 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 and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Gonsalves, speaking on a programme on the State-owned NBC Radio St Vincent and the Grenadines, said “we expect the Caricom observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission would declare the winner, in accordance with this recount”.

He told radio listeners that “anybody who wants to challenge anything afterwards can go to court, but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount”, he added.

Gonsalves, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of Caricom in July, said that there had been “no complaints” about the first two processes involved in the elections, namely:“what happens before the election day, process of registration, putting the machinery in place for free and fair elections, secondly what happens on election day.

“Nobody said it was a sham elections or irregularities were such that so as to undermine the efficacy of the poll. The third question which was outstanding is the counting of the votes.

“That’s why the first statement that [Prime Minister of Barbados] Mia Mottley made as chair of Caricom…is that each vote must be counted, each vote has to be counted. Well this is where you had the basis for the recount and the reason why it is an election and not a selection; you have to count the votes and you have to count them honestly”.

“St Vincent and the Grenadines stands firmly for democracy and reflecting the will of the people. That will tell you where we are. I don’t have to say anything straight and plain. Caricom is not going to tolerate anybody stealing an election,” he said.

Gonsalves said he is aware that a number of Opposition parties, when they lose an election, make a number of complaints.

“It is almost a boring repetition. We get the reports, follow the law and who win, win. When you take part in an election there is always a chance that you may lose, and if you lose …you take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves said, telling listeners that he is a friend to both Granger and Jagdeo.

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