By Demion Mc Tair. Updated 2:03 p.m., Thursday, July 30, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID), which has been vehement in its defence of Guyana’s President David Granger, in the aftermath of the March 2 Regional and General elections, has stripped St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of a democracy prize after he spoke out on the results of the Guyana elections.
The New York-based group has voted unanimously to revoke and strip Dr. Gonsalves of its democracy prize, the group stated in a press release.
Dr. Gonsalves was awarded the prize in December 2005.
In awarding Dr. Gonsalves the Democracy Prize for the year 2005, CGID president Rickford Burke said: “The Prime Minister was selected for his extraordinary contribution to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Caribbean region as a whole; for implementing policies and programs which have stimulated economic development and have led to the expansion of the economy; for creating the conditions for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to enjoy a higher standard of living; for conforming to the principles of good governance and the democratic way of life; and finally for his resolute leadership and firm commitment to CARICOM and Caribbean integration”.
But, in July 2020, almost 15 years later, a motion was moved by CGID members – Mr. Jason Benjamin and seconded by Dr. Michelle Luard, accusing Dr. Gonsalves of “violating the standards of democracy as well as requirements of the Prize to which he was obligated”.
In June 2020, Dr. Gonsalves came under fire from APNU+AFC supporters in Guyana and some members of CGID, including its president, Rickford Burke for saying CARICOM would not “tolerate anybody stealing an election,” added that anybody who wishes to challenge matters arising from the results afterward can go to court.
Gonsalves, who at the time of the remarks was the incoming Chairman of CARICOM said on radio “We expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount”.
The results of the March 2nd Regional and General Elections in Guyana remains unsettled as the both the incumbent Granger-led APNU+AFC, and the PPP/C Presidential Candidate Dr. Irfaan Ali claim victory in the poll.
A recount of the votes cast in the elections was ordered. Following the results of such, the APNU+AFC’s campaign manager, Joseph Harmon said “We will continue to insist that Fraudulent Recount Votes cannot determine the will of the Guyanese People. Only valid votes can produce such a result,” Demerara Waves reports.
Dr. Gonsalves is not the only one to have come under fire from the organization for remarks that could be perceived as being against president Granger and the APNU+AFC, in the context of the election debacle.
Former Barbados Prime Minister (now deceased) Owen Arthur came under fire from the CGID, when he said “the tabulation of the final election result”, for district 4, “has not yet been completed and verified according to the established procedures and relevant legal and statutory provisions”.
In an editorial published in the Guyana Chronicle on March 7, 2020, the CGID accused Mr. Arthur, who was at the time the Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Mission, of being “a longtime associate” of former Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, of the PPP/C and “who should never have been accredited by the Commonwealth”.
The motion to strip Dr. Gonsalves of his prize was moved by CGID members – Jason Benjamin and seconded by Dr. Michelle Luard.
The Board has mandated CGID President, Rickford Burke, to communicate its decision to Prime Minister Gonsalves and to request that the Prize be returned by the end of August.
On July 9, 2020, the Caribbean Court of Justice, Guyana’s final appellate court handed down a judgment striking down an earlier ruling by the Guyana Court of Appeal on 22 June 2020, which judgment
was used by the Chief Election Officer (CEO) to invalidate over 100,000 votes.
The ruling is seen as one which can pave the way for the recount votes to be used to declare the election results.
International actors such as states and multilateral organizations have cautioned Guyana to uphold the results of the recount which showed a clear victory for the opposition.