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US Congress leaders assure free, fair elections in Guyana

Elected officials, from left, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Dr. Una Clarke, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Senator Roxanne Persaud, Consul General Barbara Atherly, Shirley Paul, Chinua Duke, and James Richmond, after a community briefing on a congressional visit to Guyana at the Goshen Temple SDA Church Hall, Brooklyn.
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U. S. Congress leaders Yvette D. Clarke and Gregory Meeks, during a comprehensive briefing on Feb. 9 assured Guyanese in Brooklyn that their trip to Guyana was successful, and all concerned in the South American country agreed that the March 2 general and regional elections would be free, fair and without violence.

The politicians told diasporans at Goshen Temple SDA on Church Avenue, that they met with President David Granger, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, civil society, the United States Peace Corps, the Guyana Elections Commission, (GECOM), petroleum companies, the Guyana Chamber of Commerce, and the Carter Center, in one day, and emphasized that the open, honest dialogue with President Granger, assured that the constitution was adhere to, after the “No Confidence” motion.

Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn with a large Guyanese population, said President Granger does not believe there would be any violence, and assured the bad days before Independence would not return.

She dissuaded nationals from sharing age-old circumstances with the new generation of Guyanese and instead share skills that would prepare citizens for Guyana’s development.

“One million barrels of oil were shipped to Houston, Texas, Guyana is now an oil-producing nation, this is where you can can be influential by engaging NGOs, to educate citizens on how not to sell themselves short. Working with civil society, to create entrepreneurial opportunity, to improve infrastructure. Nation building should be a greater cause for Guyanese,” she insisted.

While comparing Guyana’s oil wealth to that of Abu Dhabi, she called on expatriates to find ways for peaceful co-existence after elections.

Meeks who represents the 5th Congressional District in Queens with many Guyanese, and served 21 years in Congress, stressed, “President Granger did everything according to the constitution, and didn’t break any laws. All concerned, including the Carter Center confirmed such.”

He understands that the delay of elections was due to GECOM that could not prepare for elections within the 90-day deadline, noting the body assured it would be ready for the March 2 elections.

Meeks said that Chair of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh predicted that the party that looses, would ask for a recount, and would have such, without hampering the smooth transition of power, within three-days.

He also dismissed claims that the U.S. government accused the APNU+AFC Coalition of breaching the constitution, but when pressed, said he was speaking only from when he was on the ground in Guyana, and assured that the U.S., EU, and OAS, are playing their part to ensure free and fair elections.

Meeks said he drafted a letter addressed to the USAID, to encourage the body to grasp the golden opportunity in Guyana by sharing technical skills to help Guyanese benefit from the country’s development.

He praised Clarke as a tremendous force in Washington DC, and said, going to Guyana was unique, since she is an expert on the committee of commerce and energy, adding that oil in Guyana could be a blessing or a course, noting elections are important to the government and people, so everyone benefits.

He said Norway’s sovereign wealth fund benefits its people, and warned against situations in Nigeria and Venezuela, that have seen infighting. The diaspora is important to Guyana’s development, he insisted.

The briefing, attended by Guyanese politician, Senator Roxanne Persaud, and Consul General of Guyana to New York, Barbara Atherly who called for unity among Guyanese, and contributions to the homeland, also applauded the U.S. politicians for taking the time to brief Guyanese, noting this was the first of its kind after a visit to the Republic.

“This level of consciousness is not present in every member of Congress, we play a very important role, and when Congressman Meeks speaks of policy that we need to direct towards Guyana, as the vice chairman of the foreign committee, this is powerful,” said Clarke, Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives who declared her candidacy for the Democratic primary scheduled for June 23, 2020.

The politicians thanked James Richmond, community activist, who helped to plan the briefing, District Leader Sherif Barker, and others, for attending the briefing, and express their hope for a peaceful election, and an opportunity to return for the inauguration of the new government.

The Congress leaders addressed questions from peacekeeping, to America’s role in the electoral process, to Venezuelan immigrants in Guyana, by Guyanese, many who plan to travel to Guyana for the March 2 polls.

Posted 4:01 pm, February 13, 2020
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