By Feona Morrison

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley has appealed for Guyana’s political parties to end their dispute over elections results and save the country from further crisis. In fact, he has expressed disappointment and concern in the electoral process which is now the subject of countless court battles which has left the country paralyzed for over a month. The March 2 General and Regional elections have failed to produce a clear winner as it has been taken over by massive allegations of fraud.

During a recent interview with TV6 Tobago, Dr. Rowley made an impassioned plea for the electoral process to conclude.

However, in the same breath, Dr. Rowley admitted that he is getting a feeling it is not going to end well. The Prime Minister said he stands in solidarity with the people of Guyana and cautioned that nobody is going to benefit from the current political situation. According to him, the entire Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is closely monitoring the state of affairs in Guyana and are willing and ready to help.

Dr. Rowley reminded of the delegation of CARICOM Prime Ministers, who on March 11, made a special post-elections visit to Guyana to aid in resolving the electoral calamity. The team was led by CARICOM’s Chairperson Mia Amor Mottley, who is also the Prime Minister of Barbados; and Prime Ministers, Dr. Rowley, Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica; Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadine and Keith Mitchell of Grenada.

Reflecting on that visit, Dr. Rowley said, “When I went on that trip with the CARICOM team I was kind of hopeful that our presence would have brought to bear on our brothers and sisters in Guyana and out of it might have come some position that could have led to a result. I am worried that an elections a month ago is a courthouse matter. I am getting a feeling that this is not going to end well. I hope I am wrong… the election in the court after a month…I am not having a good feeling about it.”

He reminded that incumbent President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo brokered an emergency deal with CARICOM designed to end the impasse at the polls. He said that the leadership of Guyana agreed for a recount of the ballots and that they will abide by that count. Prime Minister Dr. Rowley said that CARICOM sent a team of scrutineers to Guyana; he made it clear that the team did not come to get involved, but rather, to overlook the process.

The Independent High level team was chaired by the former Attorney-General and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Dominica Ms. Francine Baron, and comprise former Minister of Finance of Grenada Mr. Anthony Boatswain; Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government of UWI Ms. Cynthia Barrow-Giles; Chief Electoral Officer of Barbados Ms. Angela Taylor; and Chief Elections Officer of Trinidad and Tobago Ms. Fern Narcis-Scope.

“Trinidad and Tobago sent its Chief Elections Officer, not to interfere with the process, just to look at it and bring comfort to the people of Guyana. And the next thing we knew that presence of CARICOM by an invitation became accusations against CARICOM and a legal process,” Dr. Rowley said with great sadness.

As a consequence, he added, “So we [CARICOM] had to get out of there [Guyana].”

“So, I do not know where that leave CARICOM now. Having gone in there in that way…and having ended up as a defendant in the court I do not know where that leaves CARICOM now and that is why I have this very unsettling feeling with every passing day. I am hopeful that somethings happens that puts an end to this. It cannot go on like this because it is not going to end well and nobody is going to benefit from this in Guyana.”

He said that during his post elections visit to Guyana, he and the other Prime Ministers held dialogues with the 11 political parties which contested the polls; including the two main ones, Government and the Opposition. He added that as CARICOM leaders they provided these political parties with the benefit of their experience and gave them comfort in their presence.

“I do not know what else we can do,” Prime Minister Dr. Rowley stressed.

He repeated, “I am worried, I am concerned and I saw coming out of Guyana some advice from experience Guyanese I trust that people would be prepared to take advice and bring an end to this very soon with a determination one way or the other of how the elections will be concluded. There is too much at stake.”

Questioned whether CARICOM would be comfortable if President Granger is sworn in for a second term, Dr. Rowley made it clear that he would not comment on that and would leave it to be addressed by CARICOM’s Chairperson. But as it relates to speaking on behalf of his country, Dr. Rowley said they have a position which they are maintaining in CARICOM in which they are actively a part and deeply involved in the situation in Guyana.

He added, “I went there personally as part of the Prime Ministerial team even while I was in Ghana on that trip and on the way in and out of Ghana, I remained engaged. So the statements that were made by CARCIOM, Trinidad and Tobago was in those statements, we were associated with those positions and we have been ensuring that we play our role at the level of CARICOM in trying to help the Guyanese come to a place that is acceptable.”

In concluding, Dr. Rowley said that Guyana’s political deadlock is also of grave concern because CARICOM headquarters which is located there might come under threat and it is a situation “we cannot accept.”

Already, international pressure is building for Guyana to elect a President. Several members of the international community have warned that Guyana could be isolated and even face serious consequences and sanctions if a President is sworn in based on elections results that are not credible. In that regard, they have all been in support of a national recount of all the votes cast in the elections.

This, they are adamant, will reflect the will of the Guyanese electorate.


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