Min. of Foreign Affairs tells OAS Guyanese remain peaceful, patient
…AG assures legal recourse best solution for Guyana
“LET us be clear. The elections process that began on March 2, 2020 has not been completed and its completion rests solely in the hands of the only legal entity that can pronounce on electoral matters in Guyana, that is the Guyana Elections Commission,” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings told the Organisation of American States (OAS) on Tuesday during a special meeting held to discuss the country’s electoral situation.
Following the remarks of former Prime Minister of Jamaica and Chief of the OAS Electoral Observer Mission (EOM) to Guyana, Bruce Golding, and OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, the Foreign Affairs Minister stated that Guyana appreciates the concerns shared but an end to the elections rests in the hands of the Elections Commission.
Dr. Cummings noted that while much focus has been placed on the APNU+AFC Administration, President David Granger has long indicated that he will abide by the declaration of the Elections Commission, according to law, once such is made.
Until then, she noted that the President and, likewise, the rest of Guyana, awaits a peaceful and legal conclusion to the elections.
She affirmed: “To date, the Chairperson of GECOM has not made a declaration on these elections. President Granger has repeatedly stated that the Executive branch of Government does not have a role in managing elections. That role is given by the Constitution exclusively and explicitly to the Elections Commission.”
LEGAL RECOURSE WARRANTED
Dr. Cummings did acknowledge that the matter of a final declaration has been through several legal processes due to “serious anomalies” which affected the credibility of the results. She said that it is the legal challenges, which are catered for as a right of citizens in the law, that has contributed to a delay in the elections.
However, the Foreign Affairs Minister established that while, in the most recent court matter, the High Court ruled that the recount data must be used to declare the elections, a citizen would be in his/her legal right to appeal the said ruling and such has been done.
She reminded that the delay in Guyana’s electoral process began back in March, 2020 when the Region Four declaration was questioned. Several court battles, a national recount and several reports later, Dr. Cummings said that the one thing that has been made clear and that is that the rule of law remains sturdy in Guyana.
“There is evidence, throughout all this, that Guyana remains governed by the rule of law with full respect for the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. There has been no breakdown of the rule of law in Guyana,” Dr. Cummings said.
“Guyana is a democratic nation and intends to remain so… Guyana continues to remain a peaceful, law-abiding state and throughout this lengthy process, which has been guided by several Constitutional provisions, the people of Guyana have remained patient, calm and peaceful. The international community should therefore also be patient and not seek to influence, unduly, the Constitutional and legal processes which are currently ongoing in Guyana.”
Also representing Guyana was Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams S.C. In brief remarks, the AG stated that a picture of “doom and gloom” is unjustly being painted internationally about Guyana.
He said that Golding himself can attest to the Guyana’s right standing judicial system and it should not be expected that Guyanese, whom the AG described as “litigious”, would not seek recourse from the Courts in times of perceived or proven injustices.
“In all of what is happening, the Guyanese people have remained calm, because they know they have a system that they could have recourse to. There are winners and there are losers in the system and so, we just have to abide with the outcome of the judicial process,” he urged.
If one were to find fault with the resort of citizens to the Court prior to an election declaration, the AG stated that this must be traced back to the breakdown in the tabulation of Region Four Statement of Polls (SOPs) at which event, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Executive, Anil Nandlall took to the Court to secure injunctions to block the election declaration.
“The first recourse to the CCJ was not made by us, it was made by the Opposition. They were dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal and so they rightly sought recourse from our apex Court. We don’t have a problem with that. It’s better that we have that type of resolution in Guyana than to have the opposite that you see all over the world,” he said.
The AG too iterated that the President has stated that he will abide by the Constitution, and has done so; that he will abide by the ruling of the Court and has done so and that he will abide by the declaration of the Elections Commission and awaits that declaration to do so.
He stated: “I believe that all of this is premature. There has been no declaration. If there were a declaration we could understand but we haven’t reached that stage and we’re trying to get there.”
Also invited to speak was, PPP/C Executive, Anil Nandlall and PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate, Mark Phillips. Nandlall told the OAS that the recount data is valid and should be used to declare the elections. He pointed a finger to the APNU+AFC as working to delay the elections during the National Recount and now through the Courts.
“They participated fully and when they realised they were losing the recount, they started to fabricate these allegations of dead and migrant people voting,” he said, noting that the recount was observed by the CARICOM Scrutinising Team.
Meanwhile, Phillips briefly put forward that his party has won the elections and over 140 days later is still awaiting a conclusion. “I call on the APNU+AFC government, not just to attend this forum, but to respect the will of the people of Guyana, respect the rule of law in Guyana and respect the democratic norms and values of the Organisation of American States and concede that they have lost the elections,” he said.
Following their remarks, comments and observations came from Member States of the OAS.
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