Focus on reconciliation, constitutional reform – UK Foreign Secretary tells Guyana
Given the events that unfolded over the past five months during the protracted electoral process, calls are now mounting for Guyana to undergo major constitutional reform with the United Kingdom Government being the latest to echo these sentiments.
In a tweet on Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was pleased to see Guyana’s election results finally announced and lauded Guyanese for their patience over the past five months.
He noted in his post that the “UK looks forward to working with the new Government of Guyana. The focus now must be on reconciliation & taking steps towards constitutional reform”.
The UK Government, through its High Commission here in Georgetown and other senior Government officials, has been vocal on the protracted electoral process and stern in its calls for a democratic government that reflects the will of the Guyanese people.
Following the United States’ announcement last month of visa restrictions for persons and their immediate family members who are responsible for or complicit in undermining Guyana’s democracy, the Foreign Secretary in a statement on July 17 disclosed that the UK had also begun discussions on imposing sanctions on Guyanese officials.
“Any government sworn in on the basis of non-credible results will face strong international condemnation and consequences – we have started the process of putting those consequences in place,” the UK official had stated.
Five months after polling day, People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C’s) Dr Irfaan Ali was sworn in as Guyana’s ninth Executive President on Sunday after his party was officially declared winner of the March 2, 2020 elections by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Since then, calls have been mounting for Guyana to undergo much-needed electoral and constitutional reform.
Only Tuesday, the US-based Carter Center, which was one of the international observer missions here to monitor the elections, said the 2020 election was a true test of Guyana’s democracy and urged the new government to move quickly to undertake these reforms.
“It is critical that key leaders in Guyana now reach across the divide and work to ensure that fundamental electoral and constitutional reforms are completed as an urgent priority, well before the next election. Guyana’s political leaders spoke of these ideals during the campaign period, and the Center calls on them now to work together to realise them. An inclusive reform process – with civil society leaders playing a key role, and with strong support from the international community – will be essential,” the Center said in a statement.
Constitutional reform is one of the main issues outlined in the PPP/C’s 2020 elections manifesto. The party has promised that it would advance constitutional reform with the input of the citizens themselves. In its manifesto, it was noted that it was important that the people participate in something as critical as revising the supreme law.
In fact, only on Wednesday during the swearing-in ceremony of Cabinet Ministers, President Ali recommitted to having this done.
He boasted that his team of Ministers have skillsets and experience that are of immediate importance, as his government moves to tackle imperative issues such as constitutional and electoral reform, among other things.
Under the previous coalition Government, the constitutional reform process had hit a brick wall and was stuck before a parliamentary committee.