Guyana: Future leader or outcast?

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Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

By Sir Ronald Sanders

Guyana is in grave danger of being ostracised in the regional, hemispheric and global communities.  As I write, the general elections, which were held on March 2, still have no final count, and certainly not one that international observers have declared as credible, transparent and lawful.

I have seen many comments, statements, and assertions from some who should know better, and those who seem to have adopted a herd mentality, that international approval is unnecessary and international disapproval; however, demonstrated, is both unimportant and incapable of harming the country. Nothing could be further from reality.

Should the Guyana general elections be declared, and a government established, without the blessing of the international organisations that the government invited to observe those elections: Guyana could face suspension from the Commonwealth and from the Organisation of American States (OAS) – two of the most important organisations to which it belongs, for breaches of the Commonwealth 1991 Harare Declaration on the protection and promotion of the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth; and the Inter-American Democratic Charter that guides the OAS.

Once the machinery of the Commonwealth and the OAS are invoked – as it certainly will be – suspension of Guyana from the councils of both organizations will assuredly follow. The European Union will also take separate action that will be directed at suspending normal terms of trade, aid, and investment relations. The latter will have an immediate effect that will be immediately apparent in Guyana.

Of great significance is that both the Commonwealth and the OAS Observer missions were led by two former Caribbean prime ministers, Owen Arthur of Barbados and Bruce Golding of Jamaica. Therefore, those who look to racism to blame for positions of these organisations that don’t suit them, are hardly able to do so in this case.

And, those who might say that suspension of Guyana from the councils of the OAS and the Commonwealth is of no account, it is worth reminding that these two Organizations have been extremely important to Guyana in defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity in face of claims by Venezuela. When Guyana does not have a voice in these Organisations, it is in no position to argue its case and to secure the support it has received in the past.

Note should be taken that, in the OAS, the ostensible representative of Venezuela is Juan Guaidó’s nominee, and the opposition in Venezuela has been especially virulent in its claim to two-thirds of Guyana.  Therefore, in the OAS, Guyana will have left the OAS field clear for the Venezuela opposition to sow its seeds.

Similarly, if the Guyana elections are condemned by the international community, Guyana’s high moral standing in its case against Venezuela at the International Court of Justice, on the border contention, will be weakened.

Based on the recommendations of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the OAS Permanent Council, members of the 55 nation Commonwealth and the 34 nation OAS will be strengthened in taking any individual actions against Guyana that they consider appropriate.

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, has already said that: “Individuals who seek to benefit from electoral fraud and form illegitimate governments/regimes will be subject to a variety of serious consequences from the United States”. That is usually the first step before the US unleashes sanctions against the operations of state-owned companies and their operations. Guyana would be hurt by actions taken against individual states from the EU, the Commonwealth, and the OAS.

Sadly, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries – 12 in the Commonwealth and 14 in the OAS – that would normally defend and fight for the interest of Guyana, as they have consistently done in the past, will be estopped from doing so by the shabby treatment accorded to CARICOM in its attempt to help to resolve the general elections process at the request of both president David Granger and opposition leader, Bharat Jagdeo.

Current CARICOM chair, Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, led a high-level team to Guyana of four other prime ministers that included three of the longest-serving leaders, Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana’s immediate CARICOM neighbour.  In good faith, the leaders thought they had brokered an agreement with president Granger and opposition leader, Jagdeo.

Essentially, it was agreed that the tabulation process had been widely viewed as not being transparent or credible, and CARICOM was invited to supervise a recount as an independent body and one that wanted Guyana to come out of the situation, boasting legitimacy of the electoral process.

A CARICOM team, dispatched to supervise tabulation of the votes on March 15, was forced to leave the country after three days of patiently waiting in vain. Mottley was compelled to conclude that, despite CARICOM’s valiant efforts, “It is clear that there are forces that do not want to see the votes recounted for whatever reason”. She did not end there, she pointedly added: “Any Government which is sworn in without a credible and fully transparent vote count process would lack legitimacy”.

So, there is now the matter of what CARICOM will do. Given all these circumstances, it is unlikely to be business as usual with a government, established on the back of elections that are not deemed credible and transparent by any of the international Observers, including CARICOM.   Even the continuation of the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana could come into question.

No one in CARICOM wishes this fate for Guyana. At a moment in history when Guyana’s fortunes are set to be transformed by the exploration of oil and gas, all in CARICOM were looking forward to a vibrant Guyana, taking-up the leadership role it played in the Community’s original formation.

By the time this commentary is published in some places (it was written on 19 March), measures may have been taken to take the action necessary to tabulate the votes in Guyana through a transparent and credible process – with CARICOM re-invited to supervise it.

If that happens, Guyana will enjoy international respect amid its new-found wealth; if it doesn’t, the path ahead will be strewn with difficulties and hardships.

14 COMMENTS

  1. There is big fraud in the Guyana 2020 election and the Granger blood hound for power again. He does not care who and which Commonwealth would not help him in the future of Guyana –or aids– All he and the GECOM want to grind the poorer class of East Indians and ruled them as slaves again– all he and the PNC wanted blood bath in Guyana and it would be the people who voted for Democracy. The democratic people are the hardest working people in Guyana and a lot of jobs had been taken away from those people by Granger and Motoo– because they are ‘racist’. They did not do anything for Guyana but to just steal money and wealth from Guyana.

    God, we need help from you The Commonwealth to stop Granger from swearing in again as an illegal president. People will die from starving and those are the poorer class of people and those who voted for freedom and Democracy. Please stop this greedy riggers and ‘racist’ Grange. We beg of you — please send some kind of regime and stop this Granger and the GECOM from ruining our democratic country. Help, help please – we are begging you. Take some stand for us. Thanks you.

    • You seem to forget that the PPP stole from the nation. Have you forgot the Pradoville scheme, the land deals and the demise of the sugar industry. Both the PPP and Apnu are greedy. You are very quick to point out that Granger wants to grind the east indians. How about Jagdeo grinding the indians. I have said it before and I will say it again… PPP took office on civil servant salary and left office as multi millionaires. WHOSE MONEY? Stop looking at the indian this and the black that. Look at reality

  2. I was hoping you didn’t say what you said. It is frightening to know what will happen to our dear brothers and sisters if there is no recount and Mr. Granger is sworn in based on Mingo’s own created tabulation of votes. Based on your account what will and can happen is tantamount to a crippling economy and lawlessness to follow.

  3. It is disheartening that after all these years such ignorance and stupidity still exist. Going back to the 1950’ the “foreign” powers i.e England and America, set out to and succeeded in dividing the peoples of Then British Guyana. It is regrettable that after all this time of acts of betrayal and suppression by nations bent on profiting from Guyana, elements within the Guyanese society still embrace hatred and divisive behaviors. These behaviors help to lend to expatriates and local government officials pilfering and robbing. Revenues continue to go into the pockets of the dishonest and greedy.
    PEOPLE – you have been sleeping for too long. It is time to wake up and eliminate those greedy and selfish individuals who are masquerading as leaders. I have experienced the divide and conquer policies implemented Ofer the early years and that remains as part of the strategy of the power hungry, having no interest in the rightful benefits of the PEOPLES and children, the future of the country. I must attest that I am one who left our country over 34 years ago but, the country has not left my heart.

  4. Moonia Awad, this is the only way. For this to happen, PPP and APNU will have to go. They have squandered the nation’s welfare and played the racist trump card for too long

  5. Thank you for the views expressed regarding the insolence of the illegal Granger and the GECOM dimwits. I hope that at least a few sensible people will find time to read your article and consider the long term consequences of their actions. I too hope for the best and I’m still praying that the Almighty God will intervene and change the hearts of those who are filled with a lust for power and greed.

  6. You who do not belong to Guyana how dare you speak against our nation. God is the one who sets up leaders and takes down. He has the last say. If you are not from Guyana mind your own country’s business. God’s purpose will prevail. You people of Guyana do not allow outsiders to come between us. Pray for your nation and stop bashing the nation. When it all said and done you have to live there. May God bless the nation and purge it of corruption and corrupt people regardless or party affiliation.

  7. As an overseas based Guyanese, I have seen the difference in Guyana since the change in government. It seems like people have forgotten just a few years ago, there was blood in the streets of Guyana due to narco-traffic. No one was safe, people got killed by stray bullets, there was a phantom squad who the police had no control over. Many hitmen from foreign countries were caught and released, blank passports went missing, an illegal hanger was built at Timehri, a half built submarine was found in the interior. These are just to name a few. Today, we have relative peace and tranquility, narco trafficking is pretty much dead. My Guyanese friends, even though I feel that the present administration could have done much more, I think they deserve a second term.

    • They would have deserved a second term only through free, fair and transparent elections. Tampering with region 4 results which resulted in PNC taking the overall lead by approximately 7000 votes cannot be seen as transparent but rather fraudulent. All in Sundry who participated with this 2020 election witnessed what Mr. Mingo (Region 4 R.O) executed with his tabulation processes(a spreadsheet with imaginary numbers) that did not correspond with the statement of polls for more than half of Region 4 polling stations. This is highway robbery at its best. The PPP/C won this 2020 by more than 17000 votes. Dr. Irfaan Ali is currently the President elect. He’s still in waiting to be sworn in and that be done ASAP.

  8. In the year 2020 imagine this is happening in a supposedly democratic country as Guyana.
    Unfortunately this is not the years of the Burnham-era. The assault on democracy will not and should not be tolerated by the international community.
    It is just mind boggling that those who are in charge of GECOM believe that they can continue to run that statutory authority as though it is an arm of a political party.

  9. The Guyana situation is not merely how the country looks in the eyes of the world but what happens next internally. No measures have been taken internally or externally to deal with the problem and it is worsening.

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