Coronavirus, recounting of votes and shared government

Coronavirus, recounting of votes and shared government

Dear Editor,

The coronavirus forced hundreds of millions the world over to buckle down at home fearing as to their future since more and more persons are affected and the death rate keeps rising. Guyanese are no exception, but it might turn out that the virus might be beneficial to the outgoing President David Granger and his so called Cabinet because the virus will prevent or significantly delay a recount. National and Regional elections were held on March 2 and up to today some 20 days later the results are not known. This is because there is controversy about the manner in which the votes were counted.

The opposition parties are contending that GECOM and the three APNU/AFC appointed Commissioners railroaded the operation and declared that the incumbent polled an overwhelming number of votes in Region Four which will make them the winner of the general elections. However, the PPPC and other opposition parties vehemently objected and demanded a recount, but GECOM used numerous strategies in order to prevent a fair and accurate account. After days of back and forth discussions it was agreed by all the parties including David Granger the head of the caretaker government that CARICOM oversee the recounting and as a result Chairperson of CARICOM Mia Mottley, OR, SC Prime Minister of Barbados was invited to Guyana.

She came with other Prime Ministers, Keith Rowley, Ralph Gonsalves, Keith Mitchell, and Rooseveldt Skerrit, but were unable to carry out their task because of legal litigations and they were forced to return to their respective countries. Besides CARICOM team, all the Observers from the Carter Center, OAS, Commonwealth Secretariat and other international organizations left Georgetown very dissatisfied and they all criticized GECOM in the manner in which they handled the situation.

They all issued statements stating that the electoral process was not credible. CARICOM Chairperon Mottley said, “it is clear that there are forces that do not want the votes recounted for whatever reason… any government which is sworn in without credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy” the Barbadian Prime Minister said. The US Government has also threatened sanctions if an illegal government takes control of the Republic especially at this time when billions of dollars worth of oil is on the horizon.

There is a huge problem, for the past few days, the ballots were being moved from venue to venue without proper supervision by agents from the opposition parties. Legal proceedings are now in process in relation to the recounting and it is not likely that these High Court cases would be concluded speedily because steps will be taken to stall the process. More so, with the virus intensifying in Georgetown and its environs, movements of residents will be restricted which will prevent a speedy recount. This might be welcomed by the Granger administration because they want to stall the process as long as possible.

The so called caretaker government is in full control. The former Ministers are still termed as Ministers and they carry out their duties normally. They should have been out of office a long time ago. The no confidence motion was passed since December 2018 and Granger and his so called Ministers are still in office fully paid and enjoying the perks. In the meantime one of their strong supporters is lobbying support from the diaspora to take steps to block threats for sanction by the United States government.

In the meantime several prominent Guyanese including former GDF Brigadier Joe Singh, who served as Chairman of GECOM; former Foreign Affairs Minister and highly respected diplomat, Rudy Insanally; Professor Clem Seecharan, highly respected writer and commentator, are calling on Granger and GECOM to ensure that all the votes are fairly counted and there be a peaceful resolution to the issue.

It seems to me that Granger and his team are not keen to bring an early closure to this situation; they are convinced that they lost the elections hence the reason they do not want a fair recount because when this is done there will be no more pay and benefits. I feel that in the circumstances steps should be taken to prevent remuneration to these former government officials.

This will not be an easy task and no doubt will take quite some time because the legal process will be protracted by appeals and cross petitions and vigorous protests. The best way to resolve the impasse is a shared government which was contemplated decades ago. Racial conflict is too deep rooted and now with billions of dollars worth of oil in the horizon neither side will want to give in. They should all remember that there is a lot to share if there is unity, but if the battle continues, EXXON and the other oil companies will use the conflict for their own benefit and Guyanese will be the ultimate losers.

Oscar Ramjeet

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