The Board of Directors and general membership of the New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) voted unanimously on Monday to revoke the Democracy Prize it had awarded Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves in 2005, a press release said.
Gonsalves is the current chairman of CARICOM.
The decision was taken Monday night at a public town hall meeting Monday night, with an online viewership of over 55,000 and 120 members and supporters in attendance, the release said.
Gonsalves was awarded the prize at an extravagant ceremony in 2005 at which then Leader of the British House of Lords, Baroness Valerie Amos was keynote speaker.
“The move is yet another fallout from Gonsalves’ controversial role in the Guyana elections. Gonsalves has backed Guyana’s opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which claimed it won the March 2, 2020 for which there are no declared results. The declaration process has been hamstrung by multiple court challenges. The Guyana Court of Appeal is expected to rule on the matter Thursday,” the CGID said.
The release said that the Vincentian leader has angered Guyanese by claiming that the incumbent APNU+AFC lost the elections and that Granger should “take his licks like a man,” and give up power.
CGID President, Burke, said Gonsalves’ comments were undignified and unbecoming of a head of government.
He accused Gonsalves of regurgitating PPP propaganda adding that the prime minister was being “pugnacious, because article 106 (7) of the constitution mandates that an incumbent government only demits office when a president has been sworn in pursuant to an election,” the press release said.
“No elections results or winner have been declared. No president has been installed. Mr. Gonsalves, like the PPP, apparently wants President David Granger to demit office and leave the country governless? His comments are irresponsible and outrageous,” Burke said.
The motion to revoke the Democracy Prize was moved by CGID board member, Jason Benjamin, a past president of the University of Guyana Student Association.
It was seconded by another board member, Michelle Luard, a New York educator. The motion accused Gonsalves of violating the standards of democracy as required by the Charter of the Prize to which he was obligated.
Recipients of the prize must continuously promote and/or practice accepted standards of democracy as outlined in the Protocol of the Prize, the release said.
The Protocol says awardees must engage in programmes and policies that strengthen human freedoms and dignity through the democratic ideal; work consistently to ensure that each person enjoys the right to select their own elected representatives; practice and encourage the democratic values promulgated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the face of government, opposition or private resistance; promote good governance, social justice, equal opportunity for all and national development.
They are required to foster a harmonious, open society in which there is equal rights for all and in which the rule of law is maintained and upheld; to ensure the human rights of all citizens are fully respected and that free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of association are protected, and ensure that the poor and underprivileged are respected and cared for.
The motion stated that Gonsalves violated the principles of democracy and the terms of the prize by interfering in the elections in Guyana in an egregious and partisan manner to help one side rather than act as an intermediary to help bring about an amicable and just solution.
It contended that in an editorial published in St. Vincent, Guyana and around the Caribbean, titled “A personal Editorial,” Gonsalves “fanned the flames of racism; using inciting and incendiary language.”
The Board mandated Burke to communicate its decision to Prime Minister Gonsalves and to request that the prize be returned by the end of August.
“The announcement of the motion was unanimously approved and was met with sustained, thunderous applause,” the release said.