CARICOM chairman, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, on Wednesday slammed Guyana chief elections officer Keith Lowenfield for his latest recount report in which he invalidated more than 115,000 votes.
Her criticism came one day after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) issued an order to block the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) from using this report to declare a winner in Guyana's March 2 regional and general elections.
On Tuesday, Guyana’s Court of Appeal ruled on the constitutional meaning of “votes cast” at the March 2 polls. After the ruling, Lowenfield submitted what he claimed to be a report of the “valid and credible votes” at the elections to GECOM, showing a victory for the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (AFC(APNU/AFC).
The court's decision was immediately appealed to the CCJ by opposition, People's Progressive Party (PPP) general secretary Bharrat Jagdeo and PPP/C presidential candidate Irfaan Ali.
In a statement, Mottley said Caricom was concerned about reports that Lowenfield submitted a report to 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 GECOM and witnessed by representatives of the political parties."
She asked on what grounds and by what form of executive fiat did Lowenfield determine that he should "invalidate one vote, far less over 115 000 votes when the votes were already certified as valid by officers of the GECOM in the presence of the political parties.
Mottley said, "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."
She declared that 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."
Mottley said Caricom 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." After she observed it has been more than 100 days since the elections occurred and there is no declared result, Mottley said, "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."
On March 14, Mottley led a delegation of Caricom leaders to Guyana to try and resolve the election impasse. The Prime Minister was part of that delegation. At that time, there was agreement to an election recount. Guyana President David Granger and Jagdeo agreed their respective parties would abide by the outcome of the recount.