Monday 13 July, 2020

PM Rowley defends CARICOM's actions in Guyana Elections saga

File Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

File Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has described Sunday’s Guyana Appeal Court ruling, which found it was illegal for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to supervise a recount of ballots cast in the March 2 Regional and General Elections, as “disturbing”.

Dr Rowley said all members of CARICOM should be concerned about the ruling since it gives the view the regional bloc did “something that a court found to be illegal.”

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Dr Rowley was part of a Prime Ministerial delegation, led by CARICOM Chairman Mia Mottley that visited Guyana almost two weeks after voting ended.

The delegation met with President Granger and Opposition Leader Bharat Jagdeo.

Dr Rowley explained at a media conference on Monday that both leaders invited CARICOM to take part in the process.

Granger, Jagdeo, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) Chairman Claudette Singh signed an aide-moiré to set up a high-level independent team to supervise the recount.

The court said while GECOM can proceed with the recount it cannot outsource its constitutional mandate to supervise and manage elections in Guyana.

However, Dr Rowley said the aide-moiré spoke: “loosely about supervising their (representatives of contesting parties) conduct in counting their votes.”

“The understanding was that CARICOM, using its stature, would be there to see them do what they are supposed to do,” The PM said.

He stated the second to last sentence of the agreement noted the CARICOM team would have been working under the auspices of GECOM and “would not engage themselves in the actual counting of ballots. Their presence is to ensure that the recount is done in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner.”

The Prime Minister said some confusion was created because “the word ‘supervise’ was used in the sentence before, in an understanding that you would be there to see what they were going to do. By the time it was argued in the court, the outcome was CARICOM has acted illegally and I have a problem with that. So now CARICOM and will await the outcome of the developments there.”

Moving forward, he said Trinidad and Tobago will ask CARICOM to field the same technical team that was there before the leaders’ visit once Guyanese authorities request their assistance.

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