Amid claims of election rigging and a grab for power to control Guyana’s new-found oil wealth, former Congress of the People (COP) political leader Winston Dookeran said what is happening in Guyana is a frightening image for democracy in the Caribbean.
A former foreign affairs minister in the Basdeo Panday administration, Dookeran said he fears “shades of Burnhamism may be appearing again” in reference to the late Guyanese prime minister and president whose rule was compared with that of a dictator and said to be synonymous with election rigging.
“The political world is aghast at the electoral history that is in the making in Guyana today. I am not surprised at Caricom’s meek release, calling on ‘all parties to resolve their differences.’ (It is) no different to the past era of ‘Burnhamism’, shades of which may be appearing again.
"This is a frightening image for democracy in the Caribbean. Caricom must stand up this time, with strength, at this historical juncture in Guyana,” Dookeran said in a brief prepared response to the election chaos which has erupted over the pending declaration, after Guyanese went to the polls one week ago.
Guyana is awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge brought by the opposition Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) which is seeking to get a verification of votes in the contentious Demerara-Mahaica region on March 2, before any winner can be declared.
Both the ruling A Partnership for National Unity plus the Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) and the opposition Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) have claimed victory while accusing each other of fraud.
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, who is chair of Caricom, issued a statement a few days ago noting the serious allegations all sides have been making against each other.
She called on the electoral officials and political parties to work together to achieve a peaceful and lawful completion of the process by ensuring the tabulation of the results using the statement of polls in a transparent manner. This, she said, should be done in the presence of the representatives of the political parties and the electoral observers.
She also said Caricom is ready to facilitate further dialogue and any actions that are necessary.
Commenting on the death of a protester and violence that has erupted in the country in the aftermath of the election, Mottley said one death is too many and asked parties to recognise that the primary consideration must not only be who will be President, but who will be alive come next week or next month.