Caricom Chairman, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados has stated that the judgement of Chief Justice Roxane George was “absolutely clear” and any attempt to stall the process runs against the ruling and will not bode well for the country on the cusp of greater economic development.
Flanked by a delegation of CARICOM leaders visiting Guyana amidst concerns of tension over the 2020 General and Regional Elections, Mottley spoke on Thursday at a press briefing at the Marriott Hotel based on the agreed position of the delegation. Present were Prime Ministers Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago; Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
She stated that the leaders had met with President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, together, very late on Wednesday night into the morning hours of Thursday to “chart a process forward”.
She said that, based on thee interactions, the Regional leaders were satisfied that the President and Opposition Leader were aware of CARICOM’s position and had agreed to act in the best interest of the country and encourage all citizens to do the same. The Barbados Prime Minister said that while the delegation had rendered its support, it was conscious of the fact that efforts will only be successful if the stakeholders involved wanted the matters to be successful.
“While we can create the space for them to speak, they have to have the will for this to work. There is no doubt in our minds that there is at stake far more than who will be the President of Guyana. What is at stake is also the lives and the stability of the people of Guyana,” she said.
“Any attempt, to be able to stall the process, or any attempt to be able to obfuscate the process is one that runs against the spirit of the Chief Justice’s judgement and it is against this background that we pray that even though that a statute puts power in the hands of a Returning Officer that that Returning Officer will understand that he holds in his hands the future and stability of Guyana as we go forward.”
Mottley reminded the press that Guyana is a founding member of CARICOM and Georgetown is the “home” of CARICOM. This established, she said the countries that are a part of CARICOM see Guyana as family and will do their very best to ensure that Guyana can transparently move past the elections period.
“We are clear that as a community of sovereign nations we cannot get involved in the internal processes but we are family and family does not stand by and watch others in the family suffer without making themselves available to be able to aid the process,” she said.
“We the leaders of the Caribbean Community are committed to working with the people of Guyana for a free, fair and transparent process and we made it clear — because there is simply too much at stake for the people of Guyana.”
It is estimated that there is over six billion barrels of oil equivalent in the oil-rich Stabroek Block offshore Guyana while the involved partners continue to see “multibillion barrels of additional exploration potential.”
On December 20, President Granger declared the date as National Petroleum Day as he simultaneously announced the production of first oil in a televised national address.
Mottley said that it is imperative for CARICOM countries to work together to ensure stability in the Region.
She noted: “Both sides committed to the fact that they want to be able to abide by the laws of Guyana and the Constitution of Guyana. They have also committed that they believe that there ought to be a free and fair and transparent process. Pursuant to that, they met with the representatives of their own Commissioners with GECOM and we can only hope that both sides therefore will be able to put in place a mechanism that will allow for a fair and transparent process.”
The CARICOM Chair acknowledged that the process towards the overall declaration of Guyana’s elections results will take time and will not be miraculously completed overnight.
In the meanwhile, she urged the people of Guyana to remain calm and patient with the hope that “good sense will prevail on both sides.”