Govt OK’s US planes landing but nixes Carter Center Observers
…as UN calls for return of Carter Center to aid in credible closure for March 2 poll
The Guyana Government has refused permission to the United States Embassy in Georgetown, to have land in the country, observers from the Carter Center and the International Republican Institute (IRI) for the recount of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
This information was communicated to the US Government on Saturday following a request by that country to have observers from two accredited missions return to Guyana for the recount process.
The Center on Saturday said it has been unsuccessful in getting permission from the Government to fly into the country.
“The Carter Center is trying to get an observer on a Monday flight to Georgetown to observe the recount but has so far been unsuccessful in getting approval from the Government of Guyana,” a social media post indicated.
The US Government through its Embassy has since “sought reconsideration of this matter at the highest levels.”
This is “in recognition that the observer missions illustrate the commitment of the caretaker Government and the international community to a free, fair and transparent recount process.”
The move by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Administration was swiftly weighed in on by United Nation’s plenipotentiary representative to the country, Mikiko Tanaka.
According to the UN official, it is the organisation’s hope for the timely return of the Carter Center to Guyana to fully participate in the observation of the national recount and to help bring speedy and credible closure to the March 2 polls.
The Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Violeta Talandis, in a statement on Sunday detailed that a request had been sent to the local Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a diplomatic note on April 29, for approval for two flights landing in the country on May 4, and another on May 30.
According to the US Embassy Official, the flights serve a dual purpose, with the inbound flight on May 4 carrying accredited international observer missions to Guyana for the recount process and the outbound flights serving to repatriate US nationals, legal permanent residents and third-country nationals.
The official said that the May 30 flight was requested to return the observers to the United States along with US citizens, legal permanent residents and third-country nationals who wish to return to or transit to their homes.
It was explained that the inbound flight request was made on behalf of the Carter Center and the IRI with reference to other observer missions that also my wish to avail themselves of the requested flights.
Guyana Times understands that the Organisation of American States has also signalled an intention of observing the recount process but are yet to be approved.
Speaking to the request on behalf of the US, it was noted that the Embassy sent a copy of the diplomatic note to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority accompanied by a request to advance the issue to Guyana’s COVID-19 Task Force.
According to Talandis, “we received the usual professional courtesies from all parties, as is characteristic of Guyana’s diplomats and civil servants” and that the diplomatic note referenced the observer’s intentions to comply with the COVID-19 testing and quarantine measures.
The Embassy was later told that while permission had been granted for the planes to land in the country, the observers from the Center and IRI had not been cleared.
News of Government’s refusal to have the US-led missions return to Guyana came hours after a Trans Guyana flight landed at the Eugene F Correia International Airport with a three-member delegation of observers that are being fielded and funded by the Canadian Government.
Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee, has since, using her online presence – Twitter – expressed hope that the Carter Center can eventually be granted the permission it needs from the Government.
“[Canada] funded the Carter Center Election Observer Team in Guyana. I hope Guyana will allow them to return to complete their task. The Carter Center has earned the respect of Guyanese citizens & political parties for decades,” according to Chatterjee.
On Friday the Caribbean Community (Caricom) high-level observation team comprising of Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission, John Jarvis and Deputy Supervisor of Elections of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sylvester King, arrived in Guyana.
Caricom’s Secretary General Irwin LaRoque had sought and was granted permission by National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) Chairman, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo to fly in the team, within days.