Bipartisan US Members of Congress up pressure for Carter Center’s return to Guyana

National elections recount

…urge accurate counting of every vote

A group of United States Members of Congress from both the Democratic and Republican parties, have joined calls for The Carter Center, hitherto blocked by the President himself, to return to Guyana to observe the recount.

Congressman Jeff Duncan

The joint statement came from representatives Albio Sires, Gregory Meeks and Sanford Bishop of the Democratic party and Francis Rooney, Jeff Duncan and Jenniffer González-Colón of the Republican party.

Congressman Gregory Meeks

On Tuesday they urged the Guyana Government to facilitate the return of The Carter Center, which was here for the March 2 elections but has since found itself locked out in the cold and unable to return.

Congressman Francis Rooney

Welcoming the recount, the Members of Congress lauded the presence of Caricom but also pointed to the benefits of having The Carter Center. According to them, both The Carter Center and the technical advisory team from the International Republican Institute should return.

Congressman Albio Sires

“We appreciate the vital role that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has played in advancing democratic principles in Guyana. At the same time, we urge the Government of Guyana to allow the observation team from The Carter Center and technical advisory team from the International Republican Institute to return to the country to join Caricom in observing the recount process.”

Congressman Sanford Bishop

That being said, the six congressional colleagues expressed their support for the process and a democratic conclusion to the recount exercise. They also stressed the importance of every vote being counted accurately.

Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón

“We welcome the decision to initiate a vote recount in Guyana and reiterate our bipartisan commitment to supporting a fully transparent election process that reflects the will of the Guyanese people,” they articulated in their statement.
“We remain dedicated to ensuring that the Guyanese people are free to exercise their right to vote, that their votes are counted accurately, and that they are able to shape a democratic and prosperous future for their country,” they also said.
Back in January, Congressmen Sires and Meeks had come to Guyana, where they held meetings with caretaker President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. During their meeting with Jagdeo, he had raised the various concerns the Opposition had leading up to the elections.
Additionally, the US Congress members had met with executives of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Guyana (AmCham Guyana).
It was only on Monday that a letter surfaced from Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Cummings, written on the President’s behalf and addressed to US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah Ann-Lynch, where Cummings cites Guyana’s decision to close its airspace from commercial traffic due to COVID-19, as the reason that the Government cannot allow The Carter Centre to return.
The Minister said in the letter that the Government of Guyana wishes for the US to respect these measures.
The recount started last week without The Carter Center here to observe it, even though the team and the US Embassy requested permission for them to come.
Stakeholders have also clamoured for their presence and the additional transparency it would bring. Both Canadian and US Governments have been making similar calls with respect to the Center being allowed to observe the ongoing National Recount.
Various explanations have been given, the latest one from COVID-19 Task Force CEO Joseph Harmon.
Harmon claimed he was surprised when The Carter Center did not come and told the media that they were neither granted or denied permission. Harmon had also indicated that they can reapply to come. However, his comment came one day after caretaker Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said that it was President David Granger who denied the request and not the National COVID-19 Task Force.