Commonwealth SG praises GECOM’s handling of 2020 election fiasco

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, QC, has expressed her satisfaction with the Guyana Election Commission’s (GECOM) handling of the five-month fiasco that ensued after the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

Baroness Scotland and her visiting delegation met with the seven-member Election Commission, headed by GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh, on Tuesday. Also at the meeting were the three government-nominated Commissioners – Sase Gunraj, Bib Shadick and Manoj Narayan – and the three Opposition-nominated Commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman.

Commissioner Shadick told this publication that the visit of the Commonwealth SG was more of a courtesy call during which she exchanged pleasantries with the GECOM officials.

Of significance, however, Shadick related that Baroness Scotland commended GECOM for holding it together during the five months that followed after the March 2, 2020 election during which the APNU/AFC Coalition attempt to sway the results in order to hold onto power.

The Commonwealth SG was very vocal during Guyana’s months-long election controversy back in 2020, when the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government refused to relinquish power despite losing the elections.

However, after former President David Granger had finally conceded and paved the way for PPP/C’s Dr Irfaan Ali to be sworn-in as President, Baroness Scotland had said in a subsequent statement that the GECOM Chair “exemplified the courage, fortitude and grace required to uphold the constitution and the rule of law. I wish to thank her for the bravery and strength of purpose that she demonstrated throughout.”

In that missive, she also reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s unwavering commitment to supporting the people of Guyana in their quest to strengthen democratic and inclusive governance and ensure sustainable socio-economic development in the country.

Moreover, Baroness Scotland had also issued the call for all stakeholders and political actors to accept the lawful results, also endorsing the July 9 missive from then Chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who had called on all stakeholders to respect the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s final court of appeal.

“I urge all political actors and stakeholders in Guyana to accept and respect the results of the National Recount and ensure that their words and actions promote an environment of peace, harmony and social cohesion among all Guyanese,” she had said in another statement, referring to Guyana as a much-loved and valued member of the Commonwealth.

During her visit thus far, Baroness Scotland and her delegation have met with several government officials including President Ali and his Cabinet members on Monday.

That meeting was a follow-up to their first encounter at the United Nations COP26 last year in Scotland.

During Monday’s engagement, President Ali and Baroness Scotland continued bilateral talks.

Then on Tuesday, the Head of State hosted a dinner for the visiting team from the Commonwealth Secretariat. Before dinner, President Ali presented the Secretary-General with a painting dubbed “Ruler of the Jungle”. The Dillion Craig piece captures Guyana’s largest bird of prey, the Harpy Eagle and the national animal, the mighty jaguar.

Accompanying Baroness Scotland are: Director and Head of the SG’s Office, Deborah Jamieson; Senior Director, Governance and Peace Directorate, Professor Luis Franceschi; Assistant Research Officer of the SG’s Office, Francis Wanjiku and Assistant Research Officer of the Governance and Peace Directorate, Fayola Fraser.

The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states including Guyana, almost all of which are former territories of the British Empire.