The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, who was part of the CARICOM Observer Team to Guyana‘s 2020 elections, has expressed deep worry about the volatile political situation in Guyana.
“This is Not Going to End Well…”
In April 4, 2020 interview by a popular television personality, Elizabeth Williams, in a very somber tone of voice saturated with trepidation, the Prime Minister said:
My view is disappointment. As I speak to you now, I’m in touch with the chairman of CARICOM on a daily basis more or less, sometimes a nightly basis because we normally communicate at all hours in the night. Speaking as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and as a Caribbean person, I’m very disappointed and also very concerned about the situation in Guyana. When I went on that trip with the CARICOM Team, I was kind of hopeful that our presence would have brought to bear on our brothers and sisters in Guyana, and out of it might have come some position that could have led to a result.
I’m worried that an election of about a month ago is a courthouse matter. I’m getting a feeling that this is not going to end well. I hope I’m wrong, but that feeling…that the election is in the court after a month after election day…I’m not having a good feeling about it. And what was even more troublesome to me is that on the second pass…we had a second pass…where we thought we had some kind of agreement from the leadership in Guyana, that they put a marker down…let’s count the ballots and we will abide by that count.
Because…the elections…the ending of an elections is the counting of the ballots. Everything else is preparations, elections day, and it is the counting of the ballots that is really the election. And we thought that we had instilled that into our colleagues. So when we got this agreement and they said, “OK, send us a team of scrutineers,” meaning, people who would look at what they were doing, because scrutineers don’t really get involved in the process, Trinidad and Tobago sent our Chief Elections Officer to be a scrutineer.
Not to interfere in the process…but just to look at it, to bring comfort to the people of Guyana that the figures that have come out of here having been scrutinized by a CARICOM Team. And the next thing we knew…that presence of CARICOM by invitation became accusations against CARICOM and a legal process, so we had to get out of there. And I don’t know where that leaves CARICOM now.
Having gone in there in that way on the second pass and having ended up basically as a defendant in the court, I don’t know where that leaves CARICOM now, and that’s why I have this very unsettling feeling. With every passing day, I’m hopeful that something happens that puts an end to this. It cannot go on like this because it’s not going to end well. And nobody is going to benefit from this in Guyana.
We’ve had the opportunity to speak to all the leaders. We went to Guyana and we spoke to all the leaders and political parties: eleven political parties: nine were on the periphery and two who were the main ones: government and opposition. And we gave them the benefit of our experience, and we gave them the comfort of our presence. I don’t know what else we can do.
So I’m worried, and I’m concerned. And I saw coming out of Guyana some advice from Guyanese, from experienced Guyanese. And I trust that, you know, that people would be prepared to take advice and to bring an end to this very soon with a determination one way or the other of how the elections were concluded. There is too much at stake.
Asked if CARICOM would be comfortable with the swearing in of Mr. Granger, the Prime Minister responded:
Well I don’t want to speak to that. I would let that be spoken to by the chairman of CARICOM. But we are Trinidad and Tobago. We have a position which we maintain in CARICOM. We are very involved in CARICOM. We are deeply involved in the Guyana situation as part of CARICOM. I went there personally as part of the Prime Ministerial Team. Before that, even while I was in Ghana, on that trip, on the way in and out of Ghana, I remained engaged. So the statements that were made by CARICOM…we made three statements through the voice of the Chairman…Trinidad and Tobago was in those statements. We are associated with those positions. And we have been ensuring that we play our role at the level of CARICOM to try to help the Guyanese to come to a place that is acceptable.
And you must remember that the Headquarters of CARICOM is in Georgetown, so all of this is cause for concern. So we can’t accept a situation where the Headquarters in the Headquarters territory…what is being threatened comes to pass. We cannot come to terms with that. That is why I’m hoping that we come to a speedy conclusion to this and that a decision is made which the Guyanese people can be comfortable with moving forward.