Trinidad did not send back Elections Chief because of accusations levelled at CARICOM – Dr Rowley

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Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, has told his country’s Parliament that Trinidad decided not to send back its Elections Chief to observe the national vote recount because of accusations levelled against CARICOM when a high-level team was first invited to Guyana.

Speaking at the 25th Sitting of the House of Representatives, 5th Session of the 11th Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on May 08, Rowley made Trinidad’s position clear – that it will not get involved in the current recount process.

“I simply want to say that none of us in this Government is invested in any way in Guyana except that we want the best for the people of Guyana and we want to see them solve their problems as quickly as possible so that the results of an election could be concluded and Guyana could continue to maintain its high standing in CARICOM,” Dr Rowley said.

When asked about why Trinidad’s Chief Election Officer Fern Narcis-Scope was not part of the high-level CARICOM team in Guyana for the recount, Dr Rowley pointed to Guyana’s Court of Appeal ruling on April 5, after it found that a CARICOM supervision of the recount would be illegal.

“The leaders in Guyana – Opposition and Government – invited CARICOM back to send not an observer mission, to send a group of scrutineers to observe the Guyanese count their ballots. It was in that context that the Chief election Officer was identified as the person from Trinidad and Tobago to be part of that mission.

“Having arrived in Guyana, that agreement did not pan out and it ended up in the court and they were very serious accusations made against CARICOM and it was my view and the view of this Government that being the outcome of that altruistic approach that the Chief Election Officer of Trinidad and Tobago ought not to be in that situation at any time to be accused in that way – in a CARICOM country – so we did not send back our Election Officer there because we want to preserve our pristine position in these matters of the conduct of free and fair elections,” Dr Rowley firmly stated.

Dr Rowley explained that the CARICOM Observer mission came to Guyana to observe the elections and then left when the challenge was filed against the CARICOM team.

“…had the mission stayed there they would have been there all now.”

Dr Rowley was part of a CARICOM delegation that visited Guyana after the vote count for Region Four was declared by the High Court as being fraudulent.

“I was among that mission and we met with all the political parties of Guyana and we thought that we had somehow brought some positive movements,” Dr Rowley said.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that the Guyana Elections Commission could not hand over supervisory powers of the recount to anyone.

Dr Rowley said with a three-member high-level CARICOM team currently in the country to scrutinise the process, Trinidad is “anxiously awaiting a positive conclusion to the elections in Guyana.”

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