Former Speaker of the House, Ralph Ramkarran has expressed fears that if A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) continues to defy the international community to hold on to power, it will not go well for Guyana.
In his writings for the “Conversation Tree”, Ramkarran detailed the different stages of sanctions and the effects they can have on Guyana. Ramkarran, a Senior Counsel and Presidential Candidate for A New and United Guyana (ANUG), noted that it is not only APNU/AFC and their enablers that have to worry.
“If APNU+AFC intends to continue thumbing its nose at the international community, and refusing to declare the election results based on the recount, the sanctions imposed on APNU+AFC and election officials will extend to their families, then their enablers, then will extend to economic sanctions, direct and indirect, against APNU+AFC and election officials, their families and the country as a whole,” Ramkarran stated in his column on Sunday.
Sanctions, according to Ramkarran, can impact not only Guyana’s economy but also its standing within the international community. In addition, sanctions will derail the funding for development projects that Guyana currently collects.
“International cooperation, including funding for projects, access to resources and loans will dry up. Guyana’s relations with the OAS (Organisation of American States), the Commonwealth and Caricom, will be adversely affected. Oil resources will become inaccessible. This is the future that awaits Guyana and its people.”
But it is not as if APNU/AFC is oblivious to the effect sanctions can have on the population. Back in 2015, then Opposition Leader David Granger in an interview with Annette Ferguson had acknowledged the damage sanctions have on a country. In Granger’s own words at the time, it is the ordinary people that suffer the most from sanctions.
“Sanctions, inevitably, will affect all Guyanese citizens. We will all suffer, once there are sanctions. The question is, who will suffer the most. And whether that period of suffering, which is bound to be short, is going to have the effect of bringing about a change in Government’s behaviour.”
“I do believe so. Sanctions would have a short-term effect. And we all hope the Government would be wise enough to act so that sanctions are not prolonged. Other countries in the Commonwealth have been sanctioned for breach of democracy. And it is in the interest of Guyana to avoid these sanctions,” Granger had said during that interview.
It is now approaching five months since Guyanese went to the polls and voted. A National Recount had shown that the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the elections with 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 217,920.
Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair, Retired Justice Singh had written to Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and instructed him to prepare a final report based on the recount.
Instead, Lowenfield had submitted a report invalidating over 115,000 votes based on unsubstantiated allegations of dead and migrant voters, made by the APNU/AFC. Lowenfield’s actions caused an immediate uproar and the varying sides found themselves in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for the Irfaan Ali et al v Eslyn David et al case.
Among other decisions, the CCJ ruled that Lowenfield’s report which arbitrarily disenfranchised voters was invalid and that the concerns raised by the APNU/AFC coalition must be addressed in an elections petition.
The GECOM Chair wrote Lowenfield again, instructing him to submit his report so that the President could be declared. However, Lowenfield then engaged in a back and forth with the Chair in which sections of the CCJ judgement were twisted and misconstrued.
He then submitted a fraudulent report to Retired Justice Singh, in which he included the fraudulent declarations of embattled Returning Officer for Region Four Clairmont Mingo, which inaccurately shows that the PPP/C gained 80,920 votes while the APNU/AFC received 116,941 votes in Region Four.
The inaccuracy of those numbers was widely proven during the recount exercise, as it was unearthed that Mingo heavily inflated the votes in favour of the APNU/AFC to give them a false victory.
Last week, seemingly fed up of the multiple efforts by APNU/AFC to thwart the work of GECOM, the United States announced that they are slapping officials in Guyana who are undermining democracy, with visa restrictions.
The decision was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during a press conference. According to Pompeo, these visa restrictions can also be applied to the immediate family members of those persons.
Pompeo did not name the officials who were targeted. Indeed, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch has said that for privacy reasons, the names will not be disclosed. However, this publication has received reports that the list includes a prominent financier of the APNU/AFC Government, as well as several APNU/AFC Ministers, election officials and even judicial officers.