Slapped by High Court injunction, CARICOM withdraws from Guyanese electoral recount

(From left) Members of CARICOM’s high-level electoral recount team: Francine Baron, former Attorney-General and Foreign Minister of Dominica; Anthony Boatswain, former Minister of Finance of Grenada; Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies. Joining the team as well are Angela Taylor and Fern Narcis-Scope, the Chief Elections Officers of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. (Photo contributed)

Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, has slammed Monday’s (March 17) injunction by the Guyana High Court, which blocked an independent recount of votes cast to determine an outright winner of the March 2 general elections.

Mottley, in a statement after the ruling, said that while the CARICOM team has no other choice but to withdraw, clear lines have been drawn and the process is still void of any credibility or transparency.

“It is clear that there are forces that do not want to see the votes recounted for whatever reason. Any Government which is sworn in without a credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy,” Mottley argued.

Chair of the Caribbean Community and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley. (Photo: Twitter @MiaAmorMottley)

The CARICOM Chair, however, thanked the team for assembling on such short notice and assured the regional organisation remains committed to the people of Guyana.

The independent electoral recount was jointly agreed upon by CARICOM, incumbent President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo—the latest recount would have gotten underway at 5:00pm Guyana time.

See Mottley’s statement in full below:

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) deeply regrets that it has been forced to withdraw the independent High-Level Team it fielded on Saturday, March 14, to supervise the re-counting of the ballots in Region 4 of the General and Regional Elections of March 2 in Guyana.

The fielding of the team had been at the request of David Granger, President of Guyana, on Saturday March 14. In response, and given the urgency of the task, the team was mobilised immediately and arrived in Guyana in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Given that the tabulation process had been widely viewed as not being transparent or credible, President Granger and Bharrat Jagdeo, Leader of the Opposition, agreed that the only possible resolution was by way of a recount supervised by an independent team. This was seen as a significant contribution to bolstering the transparency and legitimacy of the electoral process.

This step forward had been anchored by an Aide Memoire signed by both leaders on March 16, and the Terms of Reference prepared by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to govern the role of the High-Level Team on Sunday March 15, for the supervision of the recounting of the ballots, not only in Region 4, but in all 10 electoral districts.

A court order issued on March 17, granted an injunction restraining GECOM from recounting any ballots of the General and Regional Elections of March 2, and set aside “any agreement between the President of Guyana and the Leader of the Opposition and or any agreement between the Guyana Elections Commission and the Caribbean Community”.

The Caribbean Community has no other choice but to withdraw the High-Level Team.

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley (Photo: Twitter @MiaAmorMottley)

It is clear that there are forces that do not want to see the votes recounted for whatever reason. Any Government which is sworn in without a credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy.

I would like to thank the high-level team for offering to serve at such short notice and for displaying the patience they have displayed over the last three days. The Team was led by Francine Baron, former Attorney-General and Foreign Minister of Dominica, and included Anthony Boatswain, former Minister of Finance of Grenada and Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies. They were accompanied by Angela Taylor and Fern Narcis-Scope, the Chief Elections Officers of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

As I said in an earlier statement it is critical that good sense prevail. The preservation of law and order is paramount, and all parties must work hard to ensure that there is peace on the roads and in the communities across Guyana.

The community remains committed to the people of Guyana.”