CARICOM Secretary General has ‘every confidence’ in recount report from scrutineers

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CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque on Friday said he stands by the report produced by the high-level CARICOM team which scrutinized the national vote recount and said they were “unshakeable” that the results of the recount reflect the will of the people who voted on March 2 and should be used to make a declaration by the Guyana Elections Commission.

He also said CARICOM has been grappling with the elections crisis here because it was interested in preserving the reputation of the entire 15-nation group of countries.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the independent CARICOM observer team to the recount of the Guyana general and regional elections for their personal sacrifice to answer the call to service.

“The team was in Guyana, by invitation, and spent 46 days during the pandemic. I have every confidence in the work they have produced,” Ambassador LaRocque said.

He was at the time presenting opening remarks at the 20th Special Meeting of CARICOM to hand over the chairmanship from Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley to Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The 46-day recount process was scrutinized by Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles; Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission, Mr John Jarvis; and SVG Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Mr Sylvester King.

The team which was put together by former Chairperson of CARICOM Mia Mottley submitted its report in which it stated that the figures of the recount are acceptable to declare a winner of the elections.

The recount showed that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party won the elections by more than 15,000 votes.

However, the results were not accepted by the incumbent and the Chief Elections Officer later submitted a report dumping 115,000 votes on the basis of irregularities and giving the incumbent a victory.

This CEO was blasted by Mottley for his decision after which she was accused of intervening in Guyana’s internal matters.

However, on Friday, the CARICOM Secretary-General made it clear that the body has never intervened in Guyana’s ongoing electoral process without invitation.

“CARICOM’s involvement in the situation in Guyana has always been by invitation,” he said.

He also noted that upholding democracy is an important part of protecting the reputation of CARICOM states.

“We have been grappling with an ongoing electoral crisis in Guyana as we sought to maintain the reputation of the community as a bastion of democracy,” the Secretary-General noted.

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