THE Prime Minister lamented the Guyana (Appeal) Court’s recent ruling that Guyana’s Constitution bars Caricom from administering a recount of the March 2 Guyanese election.
He was addressing Monday’s briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
Initially, the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) had declared a national win for the incumbent David Granger Government, but as this was done before all ballots had been counted, the courts agreed with an opposition action to void that result, and ordered a recount.
Rowley visited Guyana with a Caricom team to try to help resolve the impasse.
He told the briefing the Guyanese elections were of concern to both TT and Caricom.
“There was a ruling in the court of Guyana last week and I find that ruling quite disturbing. The ruling was that the actions of Caricom were deemed to be illegal.
"Now, that finding of a court must be of concern to every member of Caricom, because it would be predicated on an understanding that Caricom had done something that a court has found to be illegal.”
Rowley referred to an aide-memoire signed between Guyana’s two rival leaders, Granger and Bharrat Jagdeo, plus the Caricom secretary general.
He remarked, “There was some opportunity for some misrepresentation and that opportunity was seized upon.”
The PM said the document spoke of the two rival Guyanese leaders inviting Caricom to Guyana.
“It speaks loosely about ‘supervising’ their conduct in counting their votes with the understanding that Caricom, using its imprimatur stature, would be there to see them do what they are supposed to do."
Rowley read the document, “The (Caricom) high-level team would supervise the recount under the auspices of the GECOM and would not engage themselves in the actual counting of ballots. Their presence is to ensure the count is done in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner.”
He said this simply meant scrutinising the recount.
“It specifically says Caricom will not engage themselves in the actual counting of ballots. But because the word ‘supervise’ was used in the sentence before, on the understanding that you will be there to see what they do, by the time it was argued in the court, the outcome was that Caricom had acted illegally.
“I have a problem with that.
"So now Caricom looks on and we will await the outcome of the developments there. TT’s position to Caricom is that given what has happened so far, given the interpretation both outside and in the court, if the Guyanese authorities request a Caricom presence as they proceed from today in counting their ballots or whatever else they do, once a Caricom presence is requested, that presence should be provided.”
Rowley said any presence should be provided by the same Caricom technical team that was there previously for the polls.
“I have not heard that any request has been made for a Caricom presence, but if it is made, that is the kind of response TT will support: that Caricom be present at the level of technical people who will in no way interfere with electoral process of the Guyana Constitution.”
He said such a team will act as merely a scrutineer.
“Let’s see how it goes. Right now, we are awaiting the outcome.”
The controversial polls were condemned within days by a joint letter by local diplomats from US, UK, EU and Canada, followed by strong statements by the US State Department, Caricom, Commonwealth, Organisation of American States (OAS), Carter Center and a bipartisan group of US congressmen.