First Published: 9th March, 2020Last updated: March 11, 2020 at 20:07 pm
The most recent Regional and National elections in Guyana, held on March 2, 2020, was one marred by riots, chaos and bloodshed and unusual disturbances at the Guyana Elections Commission Office in Georgetown, Guyana.
The elections process had been smooth up to the point where Region 4 votes were being tabulated. Suddenly, on the night of March 4, 2020, Mr. Clairmont Mingo, the Returning Officer for Region 4, fell sick while on duty and had to be rushed to the hospital. A series of chaotic events ensued which included an alleged attempt by GECOM staff to steal a flash drive, reports of a spreadsheet which contradicted the figures of SOPs and a bomb scare which forced everyone out of the GECOM office the next day.
Subsequently, the GECOM office was barricaded by police and special forces were seen entering the building. Not too long afterward, GECOM declared a victory for the APNU/AFC coalition by presenting figures which could not be verified by any of the international observers and which almost all of the small parties (LJP, ANUG etc) claimed were incorrect.
All the time, Venezuela, with whom Guyana has a bitter border dispute, had been keeping a close eye on the unfolding of events in Guyana and the following video was produced in Venezuela and published on a Venezuelan Facebook Page.
It was announced that Mr. Granger would be sworn in as President when an injunction was granted by the High Court to block the swearing in on the grounds that it would be unlawful.
The matter was heard in Court and Mr. Neil Boston argued that the High Court does not have jurisdiction over GECOM. However, Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George last Sunday, May 8, 2020, after the initial hearing, ruled that the High Court does have jurisdiction over the case.
The court will convene again on Tuesday, 10th of March at 3PM and the Chief Justice will be expected to rule on whether the elections result declared by GECOM needs to be verified or not.
All international observers, including the Carter Center, the Commonwealth and the European Union have called on GECOM to follow the rule of law and verify the remaining 458 ballot boxes for Region 4 in the presence of Party Agents and Observers.
On the local scenes, the Granger Administrator has abused the military and police force to its advantage in clinging to power. The Government’s Department of Public Information has even published an article suggesting that international bodies need to “stay out” of Guyana’s elections.
In a surprising twist of events, the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has tweeted today, 9th of March, 2020, that he has discussed support for “democratic transition” of Government in Guyana with the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister. This spells serious trouble for Mr. Granger who is seen by many international observers as a dictator in breach of Guyana’s constitution.
Here is a screenshot of the tweet:
And here is a link to it:
The word “transition” means to “move from one (point, place, situation etc) to another.” It suggests that the United States is in support of a change of government. “Democratic” means that the transition should be made through majority vote, and the statement suggests that the United States does not believe the APNU/AFC holds the majority of votes in the elections. The statement also has strong implications for the Granger administration as it implies the possibility of the use of military force to protect democracy and human rights.
While the GDF has been used to intimidate the unarmed Guyanese population, let’s do a quick comparison of the United States’ military versus the GDF.
Available Manpower: 144 Million +
Fighter Jets: 2000 +
Attack Helicopters: 900 +
Armored Vehicles: 39,000 +
Aircraft Carries: 20
The Guyana Defense Force, which totals about 2500 military personnel, is considered internationally as one of the weakest in the world. It is weaker by far than the military of all of its neighboring countries including Suriname. In fact, the GDF is considered capable of providing only internal security and would be reliant on foreign powers for protection in case of external aggression.
The GDF has 0 fighter jets and 0 attack helicopters.
Furthermore, a recent explosion of fireworks which left one soldier dead and several badly injured has raised international concerns for the GDF’s ability to provide defense.