GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — A court in Guyana has issued a temporary injunction blocking a vote recount in the disputed general election that has paralyzed government operations amid an oil boom in the South American country.
The injunction led the 15-nation Caribbean Community trade group to withdraw a special team of electoral officials that had been given the task of recounting nearly 450,000 ballots from the March 2 election.
“It is clear that there are forces that don’t want the votes to be recounted,” said Caricom’s leader, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley. “Any government which is sworn in without a credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy.”
The U.S. government and groups including the Organization of American States have called for a recount and hinted at sanctions if any president is sworn in with no resolution of the dispute.
The election is considered the most important one since Guyana became independent from Britain in 1966, given the recent discovery of major oil and gas deposits near the country of some 750,000 people.
Guyana’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a full hearing Friday on the recount-blocking injunction sought by supporters of a multiparty coalition that has been in power since 2015 and led by President David Granger, who is seeking a second five-year term.
Both the governing coalition and the opposition People’s Progressive Party, which led Guyana for 23 years until 2015, have claimed victory at the polls.
Government agencies have been barely functioning since Parliament was dissolved in December, and some stores and banks have remained closed as the governing and opposition parties appeal for calm