On Feb. 9, 2020, United States Members of Congress Gregory Meeks and Yvette Clarke, hosted a town hall meeting in Brooklyn, to brief the Guyanese-American community on their recent fact finding mission to Guyana. The Congressional delegation, which was led by Congressman Albio Sires, visited Guyana on Jan. 22, 2020.
At said meeting, I brought to the attention of the legislators, the following Sept. 19, 2019 joint statement by United States of America Ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, United Kingdom High Commissioner to Guyana, H.E. Greg Quinn and the European Union Ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó.
QUOTE: “The United States, United Kingdom and the European Union thank the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for devising a proposed elections timeframe for conducting General and Regional Elections. However, we deeply regret that, by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders. This situation comes at great cost to the people of Guyana. The prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and delays development across all areas including infrastructure, education, health, and social services. It also hinders our ability to support Guyana’s development needs. We therefore call upon the President to set an elections date immediately in full compliance with Guyana’s constitution.” END QUOTE.
The members of Congress unequivocally disagreed that the APNU+AFC coalition government had breached the Constitution of Guyana. They contended that there was no evidence of any constitutional violation. Moreover, the Members of Congress said the United States ambassador to Guyana had affirmed this conclusion.
I raised this matter with the Members of Congress because there is indeed no evidence of a constitutional breach by Guyana’s coalition government. No court in Guyana or the Caribbean Court of Justice made such a finding. Therefore, the ambassadors’ statement is inexplicable. It referenced no legal authority for is shocking assertion, which the nation perceived as an attack on the democratically elected government of Guyana. This erroneous statement appeared to be predicated singularly on false propaganda by the opposition PPP and other anti-government entities.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for these ambassadors. I believe that they are objective and want to ensure that the March 2, 2020 elections are credible, free and fair. I see their love and respect for the Guyanese people, and appreciate their eagerness to assist Guyana to achieve its development goals.
Diplomats must eschew embracing one political party or another in an elections, as well as eschew the perception thereof. This is precisely why the Sept. 19, 2019 statement, which was damaging to our country and led to partisan attacks against the government, requires urgent clarification by the US ambassador.
Rickford Burke is the president, Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)