“Democracy requires continuous vigilance” – Pres Ali

File photo: British High Commissioner Greg Quinn, EU Ambassador Fernando Ponz-Canto, US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch and Canadian High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee leaving the Region Four RO office after walking out on the tabulation process on March 13, 2020

Recalling attempts to steal the March 2020 General and Regional Elections, President Dr Irfaan Ali has stated that those events have underlined the need to be constantly vigilant against efforts to subvert the will of the Guyanese people.
The Head of State made these remarks in his message on the occasion of International Day of Democracy 2023, which is being observed today.
Following a mostly smooth voting day, the March 2, 2020 elections resulted in a five-month political impasse after there were blatant attempts to rig the elections in favour of the then A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) regime.
According to President Ali, when those sinister forces attempted to undermine the integrity of free and fair elections in Guyana, it was a moment that tested the very core of the country’s democracy.
He noted, however, that it was through the vigilant efforts of citizens, the international community, and local institutions that they were able to thwart those who sought to steal the votes of the Guyanese people.
“It was a triumph of democracy, and it underscored the importance of remaining eternally vigilant against those who would subvert the democratic will of the people.”
“Democracy requires continuous vigilance. The purveyors of authoritarianism and election manipulation are never far away. Their tactics evolve with time and become ingenious. We must be ever-watchful, guarding against any attempts to erode the foundations of our democracy,” the Guyanese Leader posited.
In addition to the “ominous challenge” faced in 2020, President Ali reminded that Guyana’s journey towards democracy has not been without adversity. From 1968 to 1992, he said Guyana endured a harrowing 24-year period of democratic interruption.
“The memories of that dark era serve as a stark reminder of the price we paid for liberty. It was a time when the voice of the people was stifled, their rights violated, extreme hardships were levied upon them and their dreams of a better future impaled. Had it not been for the stubborn resilience and fortitude of pro-democratic forces, Guyana would never have emerged from those perilous times,” the Head of State said.
But despite those events, President Ali stressed that Guyana’s hope never dimmed and the country emerged from those dark times into the brightness of a new era in 1992. He said democracy birthed “better days and brighter times”.
President Ali went on to point out that free and fair elections have been described as the lifeblood of democracy. He added it was through the exercise of their franchise that citizens gave voice to their aspirations and directed the course of their country’s future.
“Free and fair elections are the mechanisms through which the people exercise their sovereignty… Today, as the world commemorates International Day of Democracy, Guyana reaffirms its unwavering commitment to safeguarding this precious right, born from the struggles and sacrifices of our people,” he noted.
The Guyanese Leader added, “The lessons of history teach us that democracy is fragile and can be easily undermined. It is our collective responsibility to protect and nurture it for ourselves and future generations.
“Today, as we observe the International Day of Democracy, let us remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us to secure our democratic rights. Let us honour their memory by preserving and defending the democratic values we hold dear. Happy International Day of Democracy!”
September 15 is celebrated as International Day of Democracy after being established in 2007 through a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The theme for this year’s observance is “Empowering the Next Generation”, which the UN says is to encourage young people to get involved in democratic processes so they can have their voices heard
The International Day of Democracy owes its existence to the Universal Declaration on Democracy, which was adopted on September 15, 1997 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which is an international organisation of national parliaments. In the following years, Qatar led efforts to promote an International Day of Democracy. Finally, on November 8, 2007, the day was established as the UNGA adopted by consensus the resolution titled “Support by United Nations system of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate a new or restored democracies.” (G8)