CARICOM Chair blasts Lowenfield for invalidating more than 115,000 votes
Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley on Wednesday strongly criticized Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield for his latest recount report in which he invalidated more than 115,000 votes.
Mottley in her stinging rebuke reiterated CARICOM’s ‘unshakeable’ belief that the winner of the elections should be declared from the certified figures from the recount.
The recount results showed the Opposition People’s Progressive Party winning the elections by 15,416 votes.
See Mottley’s full statement below:
Many of us have observed with great sadness what has been transpiring in Guyana.
It is more than 100 days since the people of Guyana went to the polls. And yet there is no declared result. From the very beginning we have been clear and said consistently that every vote must count and every vote must be made to count in a fair and transparent way.
Regrettably we have seen a level of gamesmanship that has left much to be desired and has definitely not portrayed our Caribbean region in the best light. This is definitely NOT our finest hour and we MUST NOT shy away from that reality.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is concerned at reports that the Chief Elections Officer has submitted a Report to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) which is contrary to the directions given by the Commission and which does not reflect the results of the recount process as certified by the very staff of the Guyana Elections Commission and witnessed by representatives of the political parties.
Indeed, these numbers and the certification of them were also witnessed by our CARICOM Observer Team. They travelled to Guyana (in spite of the pandemic and the risk to themselves) and they scrutinised the recount process.
The CARICOM Observer Team was of the unshakeable belief that the people of Guyana expressed their will at the ballot box on March 2 and that the results of the recount certified as valid by the staff of GECOM led to an orderly conclusion on which the declaration of the results of the Election would be made.
Therefore, we must ask – on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat does the Chief Elections Officer determine that he should invalidate 1 vote, far less over 115 000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by officers of the Guyana Elections Commission in the presence of the political parties.
We must remind all that if there is any evidence of fraudulent or improper conduct then there is a clear and well accepted route to deal with these matters. It is through an Election Petition to an Election Court.
Any attempt to provide numbers different from those certified by the staff of GECOM has left many in shock and wondering what next will happen to frustrate the will of the Guyanese people.
The role and focus of political parties must be useful and not obstructive in embracing and promoting the clear and expressed will of the people. When we confuse and frustrate that will, is when we begin to sow the very seeds of discord and acrimony that we are sworn to dissuade and discourage.
The Community holds the strong view that no voter must be disenfranchised in determining the credibility of this or any election.
It is this commitment to a fair and transparent political process that led us to send 2 Electoral Observation Missions – one for the Elections and one for the recount. In addition, 4 Prime Ministers accompanied me to talk to both sides and to urge patience especially after the death of 1 person.
The Community thanks patience of the Guyanese people and thanks you.
As you await the finalisation of this process, we urge again that you be patient and that you be committed to the fact that no electoral process can replace the life of any Guyanese. There must be room for all regardless of who wins and who loses.
I assure you that the Community remains committed to the people of Guyana and remains resolute that the report of its Observer Mission was very clear in its conclusions as to the will of the Guyanese people as reflected in the recount which they monitored.